The Sisters’ Voice project takes off in Pakistan with funding from the Commonwealth Foundation.
The mushrooming of civil society organisations in Pakistan took place in the 1980s. According to estimates, currently, there are approximately 100,000 CSOs operating in Pakistan consisting of registered and unregistered organisations including coalitions, trade unions, labour unions, professional associations, faith-based organisations, cultural associations, community based organisations, social welfare organisations, not-for-profit health providers, non-for-profit schools, philanthropic foundations, and voluntary organisations.
Over the decades, the focus of these civil society organisations has been on humanitarian emergencies, human rights, especially on labour, minorities and women rights, and on social development in rural communities. The contributions they have made in this regard are very significant.
However, advocacy efforts made by the CSOs remain fragmented and call for an integrated approach. This is especially true in the case of women’s organisations in the conservative provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan where there is a real need for women-led organisations to participate in meaningful dialogue and advocacy on women’s rights issues. The majority of these organisations are newly formed (during 2000s ) and keen to create venues and networking opportunities for collaboration.
Responding to this vacuum, the project ‘Da Khwendo Xhag’ or ‘The Sisters’ Voice’ has been initiated by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) with financial support from the Commonwealth Foundation. Commenced in October 2014, this two year project is designed to: educate the women-led CSOs on pro-women legislation in the country; building these CSOs’ capacity on advocacy and networking skills with diverse stakeholders so they can collectively contribute for the maximum enforcement of women protection laws.
A total of 100 women from 50 women-led CSOs will be trained to network with the project stakeholders including parliamentarians, police and judiciary. Based on an assessment of these CSOs, a training manual was designed and developed for women to enhance their knowledge on the women protection laws, advocacy and networking skills. A total of four trainings (two trainings in each province) will be held; followed by the setting up of a women’s network that would support the CSOs in raising their voices on gaps in implementation of law.
Being equipped with knowledge about women protection laws and effective skills on advocacy and networking, it is anticipated that these women-led CSOs will continue to strive towards improved governance at grassroots level and liaison with stakeholders for better implementation of women protection laws in Pakistan.