March 2016- August 2018
Peace and Development Foundation (PDF), launched its activities under the action; ‘Collaboration
for Change: Transforming Lives and Minds for Equal Citizenship’ at a juncture that could be termed
as a crossroad for the state of women empowerment in the country. To strengthen engagement
with influential quarters of society, 22 (male 15, female 7) heads of religious and educational
institutions were engaged and consulted at preliminary stage. The endeavour led to smooth
execution of following engagements including eight (8) consultative meetings with 101 (Christian:
46, Muslim: 46 and Hindu:9) male religious leaders and one (1) meeting with a group of 17 female
Muslim religious leaders to sensitize and motivate them for highlighting religious references to
strengthen and promote leadership role of women in different fields. Five (5) awareness sessions has
been done to date with women/ girls of minority communities to make them aware of available
legal and support instruments in cases like domestic violence and sexual harassment and for
economic wellbeing of women. In total, 269 individuals (185 females & 84 males) have been
engaged and sensitized whereas the process is ongoing. PDF has extended project outreach and
taken an initiative to conduct five (5) awareness sessions on pro-women legislation and safeguarding
measures introduced by the Punjab government in five (5) Union Councils at district Faisalabad
where 105 individuals (female 40 and male 65) participated including faith diversity ( Christian 49
and Muslims 56) as well. 2-day leadership training for women successfully conducted at Lahore
district, which is attended by 14 women (Muslims 6, Christians 8). Social media (Facebook page:
@Dunyahumse) has been launched for broader public engagement, post engagements are 8, 956.
Furthermore, above number of women of different segments of society contacted for leadership
training HKSH to be held in December 2016.
Highlights of Major Activities
During reporting period from March 1, 2016 to November 30, 2016 Three remarkable recent
developments could be termed as quite indicative on the intentions and approach at policy and
decision making level. The first of these developments, members of the Senate Functional
Committee on Human Rights has held the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) responsible for the rise in
incidents of violence against women. The committee has also recommended for disbanding the CII 1
and urged the government to ban the use of ‘Qisas’ and ‘Diyat’ laws in honour-killing cases. Likewise,
the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs has declared the conversion of Hindu girls to
Islam as un-Islamic 2 and also expressed concern over the practice. Meanwhile, Senator Babar Awan
(PPP) introduced a bill in the Senate mandating a 33% quota of women judges in the Supreme
Court 3 through an amendment of the Supreme Court (number of judges) Act, 1997. The bill is
currently pending before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice.
The positive measures with regard to women empowerment and emancipation in society were
continually seen during the project reporting period from March 1, 2016 to November 30, 2016. One
of these landmark steps was passing of two key pro-women bills by joint sitting of both houses of
parliament that have been pending assent for a long time. The Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal
Amendment Bill) 2015 and the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Amendment Bill) 2015 were passed by the
Senate in March 2015 but since they were not taken up by the National Assembly in time, the bills
lapsed. Thereafter, the only way to secure their passage was in a joint sitting of parliament.
The bills remained in cold storage for quite some time, parliamentarians were jolted out of their
lassitude when a number of horrific incidents of women-burning came to light in quick succession in
June; Maria Sadaqat in Murree, Ambreen in Abbottabad and Nazia Hameed in Kasur. These were
followed by the shocking honour-killing of social media personality Qandeel Baloch by her brother.
Training on Hum Kar Sakte Hain (5-day leadership program)
During the reporting period from September 2016 to November 2016 more emerging women have
been identified for future engagement under ‘WE Can Do (HKSH) initiative planned in December
2016.PDF has introduced 5-day training "Hum Kar Saktey Hain" to more than 100 lower-middle class
or below females in twin cities (Rawalpindi and Islamabad) and collected their profiles along with
information of their male supporters (family members) for further selection process. 50% females
have been selected and attended the 5-day leadership training workshops which were held in July
form 20-30, 2016 and December 6-17 at Islamabad. Beside this, PDF has facilities a full day session in
each training HKSH in December 2016.
While collection profiles of candidates PDF also distributed and collected filled pamphlets in Urdu
which were provided by NCA to get brief information of the potential women. However,
identification/coordination process of relevant women for leadership trainings is continuing…as a
co-applicant PDF is committed to indentify relevant women and girls even for next year leadership
trainings planned in the year 2017. Therefore other than planned activates PDF has taken an
initiative of preliminary meetings during reporting period to mobilize key persons; heads of
educational institutions and Church leadership to support women’s right to participate in public life.
Details of Orientation/ Preliminary Meetings are mentioned as under;
Few responses of key persons of different religions in the preliminary Meetings are mentioned over here:
During the orientation meetings most of the respondents expressed their appreciation for the initiative ‘to
contribute to the realisation of equal citizenship through women’s empowerment and active participation in
public life’ and ensured PDF of their full support for the activities of the project. By extending their wishes for
the success of the project, Sr. Mariam Noraic, Principal of Khatoon-e-Fatima School, Islamabad said that this
seems as a dream come true. She said that “we are committed to stand with those who struggle to achieve this
dream in Pakistani society”.
Waqar-ul-Haq, Executive Secretary of Catholic Diocesan Board of Education, Rawalpindi (CDBER) also
encompassed his best wishes and support for the success of the project. Heads of Educational institutions
response remained quite constructive and encouraging to carrying the project activities forward.
Religious leadership from different Churches was also appreciated the cause and opined that it would help
minority women to enhance their leadership skills and play their effective role in the society.
Jay Ram, Pojari of Krishna Mandir, Rawalpindi, in this regard welcomed the initiative and assured PDF of their
full support for the cause of strengthening women in public life. Being a minority community, remarked, they
are small in numbers in the twin cities and this would be a beneficial for the grooming of females from Hindu
community to assume better role in the society.
Dr.Seema and Professor Mehardad from Baha’i community termed it as a wonderful initiative for the
development of women.”Since this is core part of their belief and they are also having their own program on
advancement of women and youth, we would like to extend our full support for the project”, they concluded.
Meetings with religious leaders in Islamabad and Rawalpindi
PDF engaged and sensitized, senior and influential 101 religious leaders from different
religions and sects (Christians, Muslims; Sunni/Shia, and Hindus) in eight (8) special small
group’s discussions/meetings respectively; on June 24, 2016, June 28, 2016 and July 4, 2016,
August 15, 2016 at Rawalpindi/ Islamabad and on August 27, 2016 at Lahore, October 21,
2016 at Tehreek-e-Punjtan Pak Astana, Rawalpindi, November 18, 2016 at Church of Great
Harvest Ministry, Islamabad and on November 19, 2016 at Madrassa of Jamia-e-Qasimia
Islamabad under the action; ‘Collaboration for Change: Transforming Lives and Minds for
Equal Citizenship’. The objective of the discussion was to make religious leaders understand
to take lead to contribute to the realization of equal citizenship through women’s
empowerment and active participation in public life.
It was decided that with the guidance and consultation with selected senior religious
leaders, PDF will prepare pamphlets for Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities and
Religious leaders were urged to identify relevant religious teachings and scriptures to
confirm that how it sees this vital issue pertaining to women empowerment. Agreement
came upon that the said pamphlets with verses from scriptures and examples of religious
traditions will be highlighting equal rights of women, and role of women in public life.
It was decided that the religious leaders will use this literature for their sermons and public
speeches. They pledged especially that the literature about women empowerment will be
disseminated among the junior imams to equip them to voice on these issue during Friday’s
sermon and hence to create a greater impact in the society to end discrimination against the
Consensus was also developed among participants PDF will record their sermons and
statements on relevant subject to further dissemination among communities and women’s
group to strengthen them for taking leadership role in the public departments.
The religious leaders pledged to lead the process of changing attitudes and behaviours
towards women and their roles in society. They also gave their assurance that they will
facilitate PDF within their institutions and communities to talk about the realisation of equal
citizenship through women’s empowerment and active participation in public life’.
A group of Muslim senior religious leaders including Hafiz Talha Islam, Qazi Abdul Qadeer
Khamosh, Hafeezullah Usmani, Sahadullah Zahri and Hafiz Abu Bakr Sadeeq showed their full
agreement with the notion that ‘Sharia doesn’t bar women from taking active role in public
The participants endorsed that sensitizing men and especially male religious leadership on
women empowerment is step towards the right direction.
While discussion in a meeting on August 8, 2016 with Christian Church leadership mostly
pastors agreed with the agenda of the project of empowering leadership role of women and
offered their facilitation like inviting women affiliated with their local Churches from the
colony (slum area called France colony, Islamabad) and invited to their Churches to conduct
awareness sessions it was great support from them to fulfil the project objectives.
In a small meeting with Muslim religious leaders at Lahore on August 27, 2016 they were
supporting the idea to provide the religious support to the women to contribute in the
society as social leaders instead of the limit themselves in traditional roles being a house
wife or some selected fields. Lahore group of religious leaders also suggested PDF that
instead of using term of gender equality, more appropriate term can be ‘gender justice’.
World Council of Religions (WCR) extended their support greatly to work more on said
subject with PDF by offering their facilities and providing relevant material for the
preparation of pamphlets and to deliver sermons.
Shia leaders in a meeting on October 21, 2016 at office of Punjtan Pak Tehreek, Rawalpindi,
highlighted that Islamic history has many glorious examples of women leadership; Hazrat
Kadijah, Hazrat Aisha and Hazrat Zenab led Muslim community with their wealth,
knowledge and faith. Therefore in present days, women should allow to choose and
practice their professions as per their will and abilities and there should no restrictions if it is
within the prescribed limitation of Islam. In Pakistan women are empowered and
encouraged to lead like Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, Famida Mirza and many others.
Besides, after the meetings with Shia religious leaders they invited Executive Director of PDF
in their conference as a speaker, Ms. Romana Bashir was the only Non-Muslim Female
speaker at the conference. It was great opportunity for PDF to speak on the specific religious
conference along with renowned Shia and Sunni male religious leaders.
PDF has also engaged the religious leadership of para-churches (small churches other than
main churches) on November 18, 2016 at Church of Great Harvest Ministry, Islamabad
keeping in view the fact that these para- churches are not getting increased in numbers but
also having huge influence in several communities. The initiative helped in engaging
communities through their leadership.
This religious leadership of Para-Churches, as its initial reaction, had shown that they don’t
need be part of any training. However, they were imparted awareness on women
participation in the light of holy book Bible. At the end, they made the confession that we
have learned something really new and with biblical context of the issues. They pledged that
they will take this knowledge to communities in the light of biblical knowledge.
Madrassa Jamia-e- Q asimia meeting on November 19, 2016
PDF has conducted a meeting with thirty influential and prominent religious leaders from Muslim
Community of Hanafi School of thought of Madrassa Jamia-e- Qasimia at F-7/4 Islamabad. The purpose of this meeting was to motivate Muslim religious leadership about empowering women role
in society, so they can come up in a leading role from their respective profession.
Challenges and Achievements.
The session was held in a religious seminary (Madrassa) where seminary leadership
challenged the concept of women participation in public life. During the process, the
seminary leadership showed partial agreement and opined that women could lead in some
areas but not in all the fields. They also said that co- education and mix gathering cannot be
Despite of this disagreement, it could be termed as a breakthrough as the seminary
leadership welcomed the delegation of PDF and a non-Muslim woman had spoken to
audience on the occasion which could be termed as breaking an important barrier.
Awareness session and meetings with Female religious leaders
PDF committed to identify potential and progressive women religious leaders from twin cities
(Rawalpindi /Islamabad) to conduct four (4) introductory meetings and one (1) combined awareness
session with all four groups. The desired objective of this component is to motivate women religious
leaders for participating in public life as leaders and shape the discourse on women’s empowerment.
As part of introductory and preliminary with female religious leaders, first meeting on November 17,
2016 at Namood-e- Saher organization’s office, Rawalpindi (Rubina Akbar’s office who is trained by
HKSH) was held with women Qariahs (Reciters of holy Quran) and the women teaches Holy Quran at
homes, keeping in view their huge outreach. Session with religious women was held with the
objective of highlighting the leadership role of women in public life.
Women were willing to learn and change their set traditional role themselves and motivate
other women to change their behaviours to become as emerging religious/ social leaders.
They agreed that in Islam we have equal rights and can grow as a successful person in the
Women participants showed interest by saying that awareness sessions should be planned
in future for enlighten women about opportunities and measures for women’s
Awareness sessions with Religious Minority Women and Girls
PDF organized five (5) productive awareness sessions for ‘Minority Women and Girls’
correspondingly; on June 09, 2016 at Presentation Convent Girls High School Rawalpindi, June 25,
2016 at International Full Gospel Fellowship Church (IFGF), Rawalpindi, July 16, 2016 at Church of
Faith Forces Ministries, Rawalpindi and on August 20, 2016 at Gethsemane Pentecostal Church in
France Colony, Islamabad and November 18, 2016 at Church of Great Harvest Ministry, Islamabad.
The sessions were arranged under the action ‘Collaboration for Change: Transforming Lives and
Minds for Equal Citizenship’ which were attended by the total participants 194 (Female176, Male18).
During the events covered various topics including; pro-women laws, affirmative action /measures
and safeguards. Specific topics were as ‘Punjab Women Protection bill Violence against Women
2016’, Sexual Harassment Act 2010’, Findings of ‘Gender parity Report 2015 of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW)’, and ‘Strong Women, weaken society’; a critical overview of
ongoing discussions, responses and criticism by the religious political parties, Muslim clergy and CII
especially regarding enforcement of ‘Women Protection Bill against Violence 2016 passed by the
167 participants (149 women/girls 18 men) were sensitized on the available legal instruments to
help women for instances different dynamics of the pro-women laws; harassment specially at
work place and women protection bill against violence and safeguarding measures of the state
for women rights.
The participants were also informed about the latest developments aiming to promote women
empowerment at state level. Furthermore, how the male-dominated religio/socio-political
culture and state institutions serve as obstacles to women’s substantive and effective decision
making level representation in public life.
PDF disseminated IEC material i.e. posters on practical steps to seek legal support on such issues;
Right of Inheritance, Early Age Marriages and as well as emergency numbers to get instant help
whenever it is needed. The participants endorsed that the proceedings of the events remained
quite informative and useful in terms of practical way forwards in shape posters on gender
friendly laws for the women empowerment.
Almost all the female participants acknowledged that they have been subjected to domestic
violence or harassment in one way or the other in their lives and expressed their happiness on
having opportunity to grasp on such useful information. The female participants also urged
organizers to hold such kind of sessions time to time to benefit women in the society.
The administrations of the Churches acknowledged that such sessions are hugely important for
empowering women in the society and thus offered their support in holding similar sessions on
different venues involving respective communities.
The participants, during the interactive sessions instantly exhibited that their knowledge on
these issues has been enhanced. They also acknowledged that interactive sessions especially
role plays on challenging situations facing by women on daily bases has helped them overcoming
their shyness or initial lack of confidence and deepen their understanding that how they can
behave and react to address irritating behaviours and situations.
Speaker of the awareness session narrates story of a courageous women from the Holy Bible
where a twelve years bleeding women who had firm faith that even she touches the clothes of
Jesus, she will be healed. Her faith healed her and she is restored to normal life.
People of that time exclude unclean women to live alone away from social life. Stigma of being
unclean life become miserable and agonizing for her she was not allowed to come in the main
stream and touch the clothes of Jesus. She knows very well that to do so she can be punished
according to the religious and social practises.
She heard about Jesus that He has healed many and her faith brought her to Jesus. She finds courage
within herself and faces the male crowd to reach Jesus. She breaks patriarchal, religious and cultural
obstacles and stole a miracle and raised herself from the grave of her mistrust. Her desire to
change her conditions and position keeps her in struggle and finally she is brought to normal social
life, she mainstreamed herself, where she could enjoy her life. Jesus encourages her to come
We Can Do It…..!
By Shafqat Aziz
It is rightly said that if you want to know about the level of the progress and development a
particular society has attained, try to learn about the level of empowerment and emancipation
that exists in that the society. It’s a key indicator that would be instrumental for you to
ascertain if it’s a peaceful and happy society or not.
It’s an unfortunate reality that we as a nation couldn’t provide women an enabling environment
to assume their vibrant role in the society. As an ultimate eventuality of this negligent attitude
towards more than half of the population, we have lost their potential as well to take active part
in the development of society and country as well.
On other hand, this lack of empowerment and participation in public life resulted as extreme
subjugation of women and all kinds of discriminatory societal behaviors and laws at state level.
However, now it time to revisit our past follies as a nation and hence to encourage and facilitate
women to come forward and enhance their presence in public life.
The launch of project ‘Collaboration for Change: Transforming Lives and Minds s for Equal
Citizenship’, which is supported by European Union (EU) and being implemented by NCA, Peace
and Development Foundation (PDF) and Shirkat could be termed as a ray of hope for the
women, especially that belong to vulnerable segments of society.
Under the project, potential female staff from various educational and religious institutions is to
be identified and trained to emerge as future leaders while assuming different roles in public
life. Simultaneously, male relatives of the potential future leaders would also be sensitized on
the importance of their supportive role in the process.
The slogan for this initiative ‘Hum Kar Sakte Hein’ or “We Can Do It’ is quite meaningful and
reflection of reassurance that together we can construct a better future for all of us. The only
thing we need in the process is that to remain consistent, motivated and target oriented to
make the dream true and to cultivate a society where women, men and people from different
faith groups could live together joyfully sharing equal space, rights and citizenship.