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Islamabad, November 28, 2017: From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to take affirmative action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), a not-for-profit company that represents an innovative model of public private partnership, has planned a number of activities to support the 16 Days of Activism campaign reinforcing their role as a sector developer in the country in addition to their continuous work on gender equality.
To mark the 16 Days of Activism Campaign this year, PPAF will educate employees and partner organizations via multiple awareness sessions on need of political, social and economic empowerment of women. Communication material including posters and social media messages will be used to encourage and guide partner organizations to hold engaging activities with community institutions for promotion of gender equality in project areas.
In another activity, PPAF has launched a photo and video competition titled ‘What gender equality means to you’. Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, the competition is open for staff of PPAF and its partner organizations as well as members of the PPAF supported community institutions. A closing event has been planned in which personalities from civil society and academia will be invited to share their thoughts and experiences.
PPAF recognizes the critical need to empower women as active participants in the development process and is working on equal inclusion of women in 130 districts across Pakistan through its partner organizations. As of June 2017, PPAF has supported 2.25 million people through community organizations and credit groups out of which 62 percent are women. Out of 318,763 individuals receiving loans under the Prime Minister Interest Loan Free Scheme 63 percent represent women, while out of 8.4 million microcredit loans financed by PPAF 60 percent have been extended to the women clients. As many as 16.22 million individuals have benefitted from the PPAF supported infrastructure and water facilities out of which women constitute more than 50 percent. Moreover, out of 414, 329 individuals who were imparted trainings on enterprise and skill development under the livelihoods interventions 46 percent are women. In the PPAF supported primary and secondary schools 44 percent out of 247, 229 students enrolled are girls. An almost equal representation of women in these initiatives ensures that women and girls are given economic and social opportunities to bring about positive change in their lives.
PPAF recently concluded a pilot project titled, ‘Access to Justice’ in collaboration with Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan in three union councils of District Rajanpur in Punjab. The aim of this project was to enhance awareness of communities’ access to justice through the formal legal system by involving community institutions and engaging community resource persons. The community resource persons, 40 percent of whom were women, were trained as paralegals with the technical support of the British Council and the Peace and Justice Network. Each paralegal conducted 10 sessions to raise awareness among 7000 community members on legal processes and issues including registration of complaints under available grievance mechanisms, thereby enhancing legal empowerment for women and disadvantaged groups.
Committed to its mandate of equal inclusion of women in all its programmes and interventions, PPAF hosted provincial workshops titled: Voices from the Field on Equity and Inclusion in Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Quetta in 2016 to allow dialogue and discourse between the provincial governments, partner organizations and social organizers to develop a proposal on how to collaboratively achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality. PPAF also developed a radio programme titled “Roshan Raahaein” as part of six-month pilot project on ending gender-based violence in three districts of Punjab. The pilot enabled men to understand the role of women in socio-economic development and encouraged women to share their experience through the listeners’ clubs set up as part of the pilot. As a result of the pilot project the communities in the project areas started taking serious notice of incidences of early child marriages, women’s exclusion in decision-making, domestic violence and issues related to girls’ education and property rights.
PPAF is committed to bringing empowerment and improving representation of women in its internal processes and external programmes and operations. PPAF believes that the country’s gender gaps can only be met with a conscious mandate of inclusion, and in the active participation and leadership of women within the organization, through its partner organizations and in the communities PPAF works for.