Our work in Pakistan is seeing that the needs of the most marginalised in society – poor, disabled, women and young people – are met.
The country has seen political, societal and religious turbulence. But by engaging the youth as peace builders, young people are paving the way for a more cohesive, resilient and tolerant Pakistan in the future.
- 127 community and youth volunteers registered with Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122
- Panah women’s shelter home has to date given refuge to almost 3,000 women
- 139 people consulted on the future of education in Pakistan
Literacy rates are falling in Pakistan, with just 58% literacy against a target of 88%, and a huge gulf between men (70%) and women (47%). School drop-out rates increase 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.
Finding the educational needs
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.
So, we’ve consulted a diverse range of education stakeholders to identify the needs and challenges of education in Pakistan. Last year, 139 people were engaged through a series of six consultations in the Punjab province (Central, Northern and Southern Punjab region).
A wide variety of people were consulted to establish a clear picture of the country’s educational needs at every level of society – from policy-makers to parents to teachers. Using the insight we’ve gained, we want to enhance the quality of education with a reach to 8000 schools in Punjab.
Pakistan is the eighth most severely affected country in terms of climate variability. For developing countries such as Pakistan, where large swathes of the population live in poverty, periodic shocks are a serious obstacle to social and economic advancement for the most vulnerable.
Strong communities are better able to weather these shocks. Community resilience and social cohesion are important components for ensuring that people are able to live and thrive, even in the face of shocks, disasters and emergencies – both natural and manmade.
Engaging the youth, building peace
Pakistan has a large youth population – 64% of Pakistanis are under 29. Engaging this group of people has a powerful impact on society as a whole.
And in a society that experiences its fair share of religious, cultural and political turbulence and tension, empowering young people as peacebuilders promotes social cohesion and resilience now and in the future.
The initiative will engage youth to build resilience to shocks and stressors – as disputes and issues arising from poor resilience are source of disintegration in community, promoting violence and affecting the cohesion of wider society.
Rescue 1122 is a dedicated department that deals with natural and man-made disasters, emergencies and building community resilience to stresses and shocks.
In the last year, VSO in partnership with Rescue 1122 equipped youth and community volunteers with the right tools to develop action plans in the communities that are prone to stresses and shocks.
Recent results include:
- 127 community and youth volunteers have been registered with Rescue 1122 as part of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- VSO has trained 36 staff of five CSOs and one government department on VSO core approaches, including resilience.
- Knowledge cascading means eight national volunteers, 36 community youth facilitators and 376 community volunteers and students have been trained.
In Pakistan, nearly one in three married women aged 15-49 reports experiencing physical violence at the hands of their husbands, according to a UN report.
Most crimes of this nature go unreported, though. There’s a reluctance to speak to the police, and many women have accepted that domestic violence is inevitable, suffering in silence. VSO is building the capacity of the Pakistan Forum for Democratic Policing (PFDP), and working with police, policy-makers and advocates to help make Pakistan a safer place to be a woman.
Creating a refuge for women
Panah (meaning refuge) – a shelter home and member of PFDP which has to date given refuge to almost 3,000 women – is aiming to improve women’s access to justice across Pakistan.
The refuge allows women fleeing violence to stay for free with their children. It offers a range of activities targeted at improving wellbeing and self-confidence, such as yoga and art therapy, as well as providing access to emotional, social and psychiatric support.
Since 2002, the Panah shelter has been bridging the gap between the social services Pakistan has, and the services it desperately needs, picking up where other institutions currently fall short.
This year, Panah was actively engaged during advocacy campaigns, including a visit from Eminent Volunteer Baroness Burt, who applauded their efforts and demanded the police to increase their coordination with the shelter home.
Baroness Burt, British politician and VSO parliamentary volunteer
Recent results in our work to tackle gender-based violence include:
- Over 800 police officials engaged during community police meetings, seminars, press conferences, and theatre performances.
- Inspector General of Police Sindh committed to increase number of women in police and to extend support to CSOs in working against GBV.
- Inspector General Police committed to establish an anti-violence against women and children centre in Islamabad which will provide legal and medical facilities to survivors of violence under one roof.
- Federal Minister of Interior has called on the PFDP to meet and discuss way forward for police reforms in Pakistan
- 9,191 primary actors directly reached, and 472,000 people indirectly, mostly through media engagements across Pakistan focused on raising public awareness on gender-based violence.
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