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Call to end violence against women

ISLAMABAD: Ending violence against women is not a matter of a one-off celebration; rather it is an attitude that has to be taken back to homes, communities, workplaces and society at large, said Bushra Zulfiqar, Writer and Gender Activist during the launch of ‘We Can’ campaign’s Pakistan Assessment Phase II report and Strategy Paper held here on Tuesday.

Bushra said that the founder of nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah articulated and envisaged an extremely imperative role for women in nation-building, economic development and politics. “Today we have to strive to provide the women of Pakistan enabling opportunities to utilise their potential,” she added.

The report reveals that a campaign had been started namely ‘We Can’ in five countries of South Asia including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India in the year 2005 and has completed its 6 years in March 2011. The underlying belief of the campaign was that ‘the personal change becomes the agent for social change’. The campaign has used the stages of ‘Change’ theory. It began with changes in individual and thus led to changes in community. The campaign was implemented through national partners who enrolled community agents of change called change makers. The campaign aims at reducing the social acceptance of violence against women in different forms.

According to the report, the state has initiated various pro-women legislation and policies after years of campaigning by civil society organisations. However, the initiatives are still not effective enough to provide the support and protection to women need as survivors or as equal citizens of the state. Discriminatory legislation are still applicable, there have been amendments to make them less dangerous towards women, however, there is no evidence to show that the amendments are having the desired results.

The Pakistan campaign initially focused on engaging directly with over 65 district based NGOs which are doing awareness raising and undertaking the process of recruiting voluntary change makers. The findings of the campaign indicate that such activities have contributed in bringing about a shift in individual and collective attitudes. However, the extent of influence is context specific and is influenced by role of other actors including the state, media and civil society. The data also exhibits that there are different deterrent and reinforcing factors in each area.

Neva Humaira Khan, Country Head, Oxfam GB said, “I take pride when I look back to the achievements of women from all walks of life in Pakistan who have very bravely stood against all forms of violence and discriminations. ‘We Can’ Campaign has successfully generated over 3,50,000 Change Makers across 41 districts in Pakistan inculcating awareness around gender inequalities with positive shifts in paradigms towards all forms of violence against women. Every single Change Maker has declared changes in multiple systems of life after becoming sensitised by ‘We Can’ campaign, which is the highest rating among Change Makers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal & India. Nonetheless, the journey doesn’t end here, and there is a lot we have to do to bring together many scattered patches of success into a unified struggle for a promising future.”

People from all walks of life joined hands to extend support to’We Can’ campaign towards ending all forms of violence against women, advocating women empowerment and access to equal opportunities for women across Pakistan.

“With the help of the Change Makers, millions of people have been enabled to address violence in their homes and other spheres of life”, said Dr Noreen Khalid, Manager EVAW and Girls Education, Oxfam GB. Javed Hasan Aly, Public Policy Expert and Ex-Civil Servant told the audience, “Dogmatic Obscurantism, the root cause of violence against women is a consequence of intellectual degeneration and moral turpitude.

We need to fight against dogma and obscurantism if we want to revive a progressive society given birth by our Holy Prophet (PBUH) where women were of equal consequence to human, social, political and economic lives as men. There is a serious call for civil society to invest in religion for the revival of Islamic learning in its true essence.”

Source: Business Recorder


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