Raising Her Voice

Empowering women to engage effectively in governance

Dear John,
Recently, you visited Pakistan Programme and met with women leaders, NCSW and AF team so would you like to share your feedback and findings and suggestions?

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Comment by Feroza Zahra on August 19, 2010 at 11:03
Dear John,

Thank you so much for such a detail, encouraging and appreciating comments.
I am very much thankful of partner organisation and especially national centre and field office based staff members because with out their hard work and commitment towards this issue we could not bring change so I credit goes to them as well.

Yes, you are right now we should be focused on documentation of change process, now we will document case stories via flip cameras and will develop documentaries on it but currently we are facing a big crises by Floods in all four provinces of Pakistan. This flood affects 18 districts out f 30 targeted which is big cause of destruction in project implementation. In some areas no one could visit to flood response Women leaders are displaced but in some areas they are supporting to each others and survivors. They are managing relief camps and organising stuffs for flood affected areas.

These visits open different windows to coordinate with state and other civil sector on same issue so we are trying to not loosing it.

I am really grateful that you highlighted the role and sorry for delay response as I was out of office.

Many thanks
Feroza
Comment by johncropper on August 6, 2010 at 15:18
Hi Feroza,

First of all, many thanks for all your hard work and help in organising the visit. I very much enjoyed it and it was really good to meet the partners and the women's groups. I often have to represent what country projects are doing and it is much easier after meeting people and listening to their stories and experiences directly. Barbara's report was also really positive - and again - it is a tribute to all the hard work you are doing. She said:

"Equally exciting was attending an assembly for 250 women local leaders. This was part of our ‘Raising her Voice’ work. In Pakistan it includes getting women registered to vote and encouraging them to do so, and getting women to stand for election to local leadership positions such as local councils. What was inspiring was the confidence of the women I heard speak. Again, often it was about how they had helped in many individual cases as well as how they were trying to change their communities.

Many women I met locally and nationally said they felt this was a moment of opportunity in Pakistan for women – let us hope so. In many case the laws are good (honour killing is a crime, so is sexual harassment, and a law on violence against women should be passed soon). So it is not so much the laws but the local customs and practices which need changing. There is a strong need which our teams are working on to get local leaders linked up to more senior parliamentarians. The local leaders need their support. In some cases though I did feel that the more senior women needed to spend more time with the local women to really understand what they thought about how change could happen. It felt a bit disconnected, though everyone was genuine in trying to improve women’s rights. So I felt very pleased with our development work. The team will now have to do a lot of thinking about how they can spread or deepen this work to get much more widespread change. It is a tribute to their success that there is the possibility of doing so much more".

I was very impressed by the ambition and scale of what you have been doing. When I say you - I mean Oxfam and Aurat Foundation and - of course - the women themselves.

Managing to get ID cards for 48, 000 women in just one year is a fantastic result and although it is not the only result, its scale really shows the ambition of what you have achieved. In short, you have 50 groups of 50 women around the country. They are committed and organised & they have acheived some wonderful results in terms of obtaining ID cards for women and in holding the electoral and other authorities to account.

In effect, you have a nationwide platform, a tool - if you like - for change. I think that the challenge going forward is working out how to use this tool. You have already started holding conversations about how change happens - in women, in communities etc. One example was the way we discussed the young woman who said that she had not been interested in politics until she joined one of the groups. Why? What happened? What made her change? If you look at some examples from around the groups, you can develop some ideas about what causes change to happen. What is most effective?

In the same way, I think you need to look at community level change. What workls? What doesn't? Who influences who? Who influences the influencers? Again, you have started these conversations - which is excellent - I think the next stage is to draw some conclusions.

The work you have done has opened a gateway & now you need to work out how best to use it. At the same time, we cannot ignore the terrible flooding. I am sure that this will be affecting some/many(?) of the women's groups. I feel that you probably need to take stock and look at your remarkable progress and then plan going forward. The mid-term evaluation would be a very good moment for this and should provide some useful and helpful inputs.

The sorts of questions you need to find answers for are:

What are the most effective ways of making change happen?
How can we do more of it?
How can we make the changes sustainable? In other words, how do we make the changes stick?
What changes do we need to make to our plans to achieve this?
How do we engage with influencers - social, political, religious etc?
How do we link the women's groups up with other programmes - We Can? Other programmes on gender and governance?

If you can elaborate a list of questions before the mid-term evaluation starts: then the process itself should help.

I also think that you need to look to find more ways to document "human interest stories" - written, video or whatever - these can be very helpful as a way of showing people what your project means. There is a very good one from Indonesia that was posted a few days ago - this is a really good model of a documented story.

Do these comments help? Please let me know what you think? This is why it is good to held these conversation in public!

Again - very many thanks for all of your hard work, help and hospitality.

John

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