Major Highlights of AAWAZ - Year 1 of Implementation phase
1. AAWAZ Utha Campaign
Under AAWAZ programme, all partner organizations initiated AAWAZ UTHA Campaign to raise civil society demands to revise Local Government bills of Punjab and KP. Their main focus was to address women and other excluded groups' participation issues and to raise awareness regarding the importance of LG system. A charter of demand was developed and shared through press conferences and advocacy dialogues, national and provincial conferences. As a result of that campaign, Punjab Government increased the women representation in almost 20%, KP continues the 33% representation and local government system will also be initiated in Islamabad tertiary.
Calling local governance a missing tier of democracy in Pakistan, Parliamentarians and human rights activists and local government experts have called for introducing local government system that is 'democratically representative' and ensure meaningful and participation of citizens. They were discussing the issue at a national conference on 'Local Governments Legislation and Citizens' Concerns' here on Thursday, August 1, 2013. The conference held under the auspices of AAWAZ Voice and Accountability Programme adopted a charter of demands calling for a minimum of 33 percent representation for women, 10 percent seats for peasants and 5 percent for minorities at all tiers of local government, filled through party based and constituency-based direct election in a joint electorate.
Speakers of the conference included Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson, National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), Daniyal Aziz, MNA PML-N, Dr. Farooq Sattar, Parliamentary Leader, MQM in the National Assembly, Dr. Shahzad Waseem, Advisor to Chairman PTI and human rights activits Tahira Abdullah, Rehana Hashmi, Naeem Mirza and Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani.
A provincial conference was held on 26th November in Pearl Continental Hotel, Peshawar. The responsibilities of the events were shared by consortium A and the lead was taken by Aurat Foundation for carrying out this provincial level activity in organising the event, overall management and printing material for the event. Chief Guest of the event was Jafar Shah, Member of provincial Assembly; among other guests were Mian Iftikhar Hussain former minister of Information and Shamim Shahid. AF mobilised 80 men and 40 women for this event. Similarly, Aurat Foundation Lahore staff participated in the provincial conference on, "Effective citizen participation in upcoming local government elections" on November 12th, 2013 at Ambassador Hotel Lahore. Aurat Foundation mobilised 18 participants from AAWAZ districts i.e., Okara, Mandi Bahaudin, Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Jhang. AF also mobilised more than 50 persons from Lahore to participate in provincial conference.
A number of party leaders ensured to encourage women to contest election on chairman and vice chairman seats of LG election.
AAWAZ UTHA Campaign on local governments - District level activities
At district level various activities were performed in line with the LG Election Campaign in Punjab. In KP elections haven't yet been announced therefore no such activity was performed in KP districts.
Orientation and awareness raising meetings/trainings with stakeholders at UC, tehsil and district level on understanding of LG system/structure and particularly UC structure, UC functions, women representation, voter list, application procedure etc.
Organising election camps at district level to facilitate women candidates for LG elections
District Assemblies- interface between political parties and women and excluded groups
Disseminating information about the new LG laws and electoral processes
At district level; rallies, seminars, walks, mock sessions, mobile camps for facilitation, FGD's etc. were organised.
Immediate results achieved are as follows:
429 Women submitted their papers as candidates for LG elections in Punjab while in KP LG elections haven't yet announced so no change was observed. However; women of forums showed their keen interest in participation.
A panel of excluded group submitted their nomination as candidates in UC 173 Sargodha.
Mobilized a number of women at grass root level to contest election as candidate on general seats in local government elections
Provided the information on (ECP helpline no. 8300) for verifying their vote.
Local Political party leaders made commitment to enhance opportunity in their respective parties at local level in Rajan Pur.
Vote transfer of women from Sindh to Nowshera by Election commissioner in AAWAZ women assembly.
Ensured the 33 % participation of women in local government election in KP by different meetings.
Commitment from political party officials to ensure women participation as a candidate in upcoming elections.
A number of party leaders ensured to encourage women to contest election on chairman and vice chairman seats of LG election.
On 11th Nov, 2013; AF AAWAZ team Lahore region along with consortium partners participated in meeting organized by IFES & Election Commission of Pakistan on, discussion on the local body elections, design the campaign on voter education for Punjab and brainstorming on messages for voter education regarding upcoming local bodies' elections.
6 demands placed during provincial conference in Lahore were accepted and incorporated in LG Act, Punjab. As a result of campaign activities; following demands were approved:
Increased number of seat at UC level from 9 to 13 seats.
In Punjab, number of seats for women in a UC has been increased from 1 to 2 (out of 13 total members).
It was initially planned that religious minorities would be given seats only where they had at least 200 community members. In Punjab, one seat for minorities is now reserved in each UC.
One women mandatory in Local Govt. council
Women seats increased in Masalihti Anjuman from 1 to 2.
In KP, 20% seats for women and 5% seats each for youth and minorities have been ensured.
2. Launching of Legislative Agenda - Lahore
AAWAZ partners Punjab AF, SAP-PK, SPO, Sungi organised a launching ceremony titled as "Legislative agenda for women rights - current status and way forward" in Lahore. Launching ceremony was attended More than 250 activist from all walks of life i.e. office bearers of political parties, women political activists, media, youth, researchers, academia, CSOs, lawyers and etc. 54 women parliamentarians attended launching ceremony. Agenda was launched by Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Minister for Population Welfare, Punjab. Rest of the speakers included Irum Bukhari, Secretary Women Development Punjab, Mhnaz Rafi, Founder Member Women Action Forum, Dr. Nosheen Hamid, MPA-PTI, Mrs. Faiza Malik, MPA-PPPP, Nasreen Zehra, Resident Director AF, Naeem Mirza, Chief Operating Officer AF, Muhammad Tahseen, Executive Director SAP-PK. Main discussion was remained focused on domestic violence bill, home-based workers, domestic workers, amendments in Muslim family laws and personal laws of minorities, women representation in of local government act, early age child marriage restraint acts.
3. National Conference - 16 days of activism
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an international campaign that starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign hopes to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level. The last year's theme was "Let's challenge militarism and end violence against women".
To commemorate this campaign, AAWAZ consortium conducted a conference at National level on 9th December, 2013 with the following three themes:
1. Domestic Violence Legislation
2. Religious and sectarian harmony: Barriers and Way forward
3. Reforms of Qisas and Diyat Provisions
The National conference was chaired by Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women. Other speakers include Barrister Zafar Ullah Khan (Federal Secretary, Law Justice and Human Rights), Justice (R) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Allama Tahir Ashrafi (Chairman, Pakistan Ulema Council), Neelam Toru (Chairperson, Provincial Commission on the Status of Women KP) and Naeem Mirza from Aurat Foundation and Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani from Sungi Development Foundation. Major topics highlighted during the event were passage of domestic violence bill, law for ending violence through social media, enhanced role of NCSW and PCSW, justice for all irrespective of their sex, religion, sect or any other basis and bringing all the religious leaders and scholars onto one table to strive efforts for brining social harmony in society. The conference was attended by more than 350 representatives from local, national and international NGO's, CSO's and CAC representatives, students from various colleges and universities and the representatives of AAWAZ consortium.
4. National Conference on International Women's Day - 8th March
The International Women's Day 2014 was celebrated in Islamabad on 8th March with the theme "Equality for women is progress for all". The event was jointly organised by Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, Aurat Foundation & AAWAZ and UN Women at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA). Honorable Mamnoon Hussain, President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was the chief guest, whereas more than 500 representatives from civil society organisations, district level community representatives, ministries, government line departments including women guards from armed forces, diplomatic community, students, academia and lawyers attended the event. Honorable President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain in his keynote address said that the government was committed to provide all support to women because it believed that there would be no development without women's participation in all walks of life. Pakistan Television (PTV) live telecast the event form the hall that reverberated with the spirit of women's empowerment through feminist songs, enthusiastic and overwhelming presence of women and men and slogans highlighting messages for women's progress, ending violence against women and sexual harassment at work place.
Naeem Ahmed Mirza (COO - AF) addressing the audience during Legislative agenda launching ceremony
President, Mr. Mamnoon Hussain (3rd from Left) with other dignitaries
5. Gender Sensitisation Workshop and Policy Dialogue on VAW&G - Regional and National
To achieve Output 1 i.e. "Women better able to participate safely in politics and in public spaces at federal, provincial and local levels in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab"; lobbying and advocacy with the mainstream political parties of Pakistan is one of the strategies AAWAZ adopted. For this purpose, the first interaction with 9 political parties was made on 29th - 30th April, 2014 in PC Bhurban where a one day workshop on "Gender Sensitisation" was conducted followed by one day "Policy Dialogue on Violence against Women &Girls (VAW&G)"
The purpose of this workshop and policy dialogue was gender sensitisation with the political leaders and legislators besides structuring a framework for ending VAW&G. Political parties as gatekeepers are the key actors that can support women's political participation within parties as well in the electoral processes which is prime focus of AAWAZ Programme.
Honorable Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly, was the chief guest. More than 50 representatives from main stream political parties, Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, and AAWAZ consortium partners attended the workshop and policy dialogue. 34 MNA's, Senators and office-bearers from the following political parties participated:
1. PML (N)
5. PML (Q)
9. JUI - F
The participants agreed to develop the national policy in consultation with relevant stakeholders through dialogue at provincial and local level. Participants suggested that a one-stop approach is required to address the issue, where medico-legal, police help, shelter home and rehabilitation facilities are put under one roof. Honorable Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly, in his remarks emphasised that civil society organisations must take political parties along in their struggle for gender equality.
Group Photo, participants of policy dialogue with honorable chief guest Mr. Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly