We’ve been working in Pakistan since 1987. Since then, we've engaged the skills and expertise of almost 1,000 international and Pakistani volunteers.
Youth and peacebuilding
Pakistan experienced a population surge followed by a stabilisation. This has resulted in a very large cohort of young people: 64% of Pakistanis are under 29.
According to the Commonwealth Secretariat's Youth Development Index, Pakistan is one of the worst countries for young people aged 15-29 to live. They face limited prospects for employment and education, which are seen as contributing factors to militancy and extremism.
VSO Pakistan sees youth as a precious resource to be nurtured and tapped into to develop a positive culture of peace, reconciliation and social cohesion. We develop young people's skills, confidence and employability through our youth volunteering programmes, taking collective action on the issues they care most about. Recent work has included:
- 59 youth volunteers in Multan and Rawalpindi/Islamabad trained in peace-building, in partnership with the Womens Rights Association. They planned and executed 16 action plans, including delivering civic education, resolving conflicts and facilitating community dialogues, reaching 3625 people
- Independent research conducted in 2016 found 98% of youth participants felt that social action plans brought a significant change in communities’ perceptions towards promoting social cohesion
- Our Peace Forums in Pakistan project, aiming to divert youth from militancy, trained 203 local youth volunteers in peacebuilding, facilitation and conflict resolution. They went on to engage 1183 people in their local communities, promoting interfaith harmony and resolving disputes through direct engagement as well as plays, social media and radio messages
- 94% of the respondents said the ‘Peace Forums in Pakistan’ project successfully contributed to bringing about change through promoting interfaith harmony between the Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities
Improving education and training
There are 15.8 million children in Pakistan's primary schools. Currently, around 69% of them remain in school until age 11. In 2013/14 the overall literacy rate was just 58% against a target of 88%, with a huge gulf between males (70%) and women (47%). Drop-out rate increases sharply around the transition to secondary school
Urgent improvements are needed in education and training, in order to ensure a generation of children and young people stand a chance of gaining the skills and competencies to progress in the labour market and society as a whole.
VSO Pakistan is improving primary education through better education management, and on strengthening the relevance and quality of vocational training. Our current work includes placing volunteer technical experts to support vocational training curriculum development.
Tackling gender inequality and violence
Pakistan today is a patriarchal society, with damaging effects on its men and women, as well as its prospects. In the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, Pakistan was ranked at 141 of 142 countries. Major disparities exist in health, education and inequality at work.
Pakistani women are commonly subject to socio-economic discrimination and serious violence. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded 987 ‘honour’ crimes against women in 2015 alone – from murder to abduction and burning. Given the under-reporting of gender-based violence (GBV), it is very likely that the true number is many times higher.
VSO Pakistan is forming partnerships and coalitions to provide a coherent and effective civil society response to GBV. Current work includes:
- Building the capacity of the Pakistan Forum on Democratic Policing (PFDP) through international expert volunteers, to push for improved police response to GBV, including better referrals and support for survivors
- In 2016/17, VSO Pakistan increased the number of national civil society organisations and activists in the PFDP from eight to 51, allowing expansion into Sindh province. They trained 97 primary actors and reached11,000 people through digital and print campaigns
- Developing advocacy campaigns on GBV, in collaboration with police, the PFDP and survivors of violence
Becoming more resilient to disasters
Pakistan is the eighth most severely affected country in terms of climate variability. Climate disasters are thought to have cost the country $3.93 billion from 1995 to 2014 according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2016.
For developing countries such as Pakistan, where large swathes of the population live in poverty, periodic shocks are a severe impediment to social and economic advancement.
VSO is working to build the resilience of Pakistan's households and communitiies to these shocks. Recent work includes:
- Placement of international volunteers with the Punjab Emergergency Services, to coach staff and improve systems for responding to disasters using the Rescue 1122 network
- Delivery of the EU Aid Volunteers programme in Pakistan, with four volunteers placed with disastetr risk reduction organisations to strengthen systems and technical capacity
Engaging the police in Pakistan on gender-based violence
In Pakistan, VSO is supporting local partners to improve the police response to gender-based violence in a country that scores among the lowest countries in the world for gender equality, and where patriarchal attitudes prevent many abused women seeking and accessing justice.
Peace Forums in Pakistan
Training youth volunteers to champion peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Multan district.
- Rozan (CSO) http://www.rozan.org
- Hashoo Foundation (CSO) http://hashoofoundation.org/
- Women Rights Association (CSO)
- Government of Punjab (Province) https://www.punjab.gov.pk/
- Rescue 1122 (Provincial Government) http://www.rescue.gov.pk/
We look forward to engaging with partners who have an established track record working within health, education and livelihoods, and funders who share our belief in creating positive social change with volunteering.
Office: Sara Tower, MPCHS, E-11/3, Islamabad, Pakistan