One of the NGOs, the Pakistan Human Development Foundation (PHDF), organized an awareness-raising campaign in southern Punjab Province, where women and girls in some rural communities have traditionally been barred from public space. Preparatory discussions with the village leaders and subsequent separate talks with groups of men and women eventually brought both parties to sit together to watch a theatre performance and discuss women's rights in an Islamic society.
The PHDF team had to obtain permission from the village men for their wives and daughters to come out from their homes and attend the meeting and theatre performance, as well as invite the women themselves. Initially, the women tended to be skeptical, but gradually gained interest. As the discussions went on, many of the women began to share their concerns, for instance about marriage without consent, a common practice in the region. The team reported that a mother and her teenage daughter, who had attended the meeting, had subsequently persuaded the girl's father to ask for her opinion about an approaching marriage to her cousin, planned without her consent. The girl expressed her objection to the marriage, and now hopes to continue her studies.
Another outcome of the campaign efforts was the establishment of a Media Support Group in North-West Frontier Province, following a meeting of 30 representatives from the media that was convened by the Peace and Development Organization (PADO) in collaboration with UNIFEM. The Media Support Group aims to contribute to the elimination of violence against women by highlighting the issue in the media.
For more information, contact Katsuhiro Kaneko, Programme Analyst, UNIFEM Pakistan, katsuhiro.kaneko[at]unifem.org.