ISLAMABAD: Rights activists on Thursday called for role of women in the development process at all levels especially at the local government level in the country.
They were speaking at the launch of the second phase of the Jamhoori Maidan (Democratic Governance) project here on Thursday.
The project aims at strengthening democratic system, inclusion of women and youth in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
It is an effort by the Association of Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), a non-profit development organisation working on economic and political empowerment of communities in the backward areas of the K-P and Fata with a special focus on women and other marginalised groups.
ABKT Founder and activists Shad Begum shed light on rights of women in the political sphere in the region.
Sharing her experiences of having served as a tehsil councillor, she said that women were not even allowed to come to tehsil council offices and sit next to men as equals.
Begum, urged the participants to move forward and help change the situation.
“The situation of K-P was always unfavourable towards women’s freedom to vote. However, due to military involvement in the past few years, it has worsened,” Begum said, who received “International Women of Courage Award” in 2012 from the US government in recognition of her struggle for economic and political empowerment of women and girls in the K-P.
The second phase of the project will focus on 10 selected districts of K-P -- Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Malakand, Nowshera, Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi, Swat, Buner, Shangla -- and the seven agencies of the Fata.
During the process efforts will be made at capacity building of elected women and youth councillors of the region. The project will also focus on mobilising citizens oversight forums for increased accountability of government departments. Selected journalists will also be sensitised on gender issues to highlight women and youth concerns in K-P and Fata.
Shaheen Begum spoke on the struggle for political empowerment of women in Malakand division and Amjad Hussain spoke on the youth’s challenges and opportunities.
Miraj Humayun spoke on the role of Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in political empowerment of women in the K-P.
The event was attended by human rights activist Marvi Sirmed, Saira Shams, Mehreen Afridi among others.
The project is being carried out by the ABKT in collaboration with the British High Commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.
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