Awaz Foundation Pakistan - Centre for Development Services received a Network grant from AmplifyChange in 2017 for the Ujala project. The project has already achieved remarkable results.
Ujala is a network of 44 partners working across all 40 districts of Pakistan, including difficult to reach areas where it is challenging to talk about SRHR, such as interior Sindh, Balochistan, Southern Punjab and the remote districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP).
The project is achieving transformational impact by building the organisational capacity of grassroots organisationsto advocate for SRHR across Pakistan. These organisations are truly representative of their communities - 5% of agencies in the Ujala network are transgender-led, 5% are disability-led, 23% are women-led and 16% are youth-led.
Below: Advanced training session on SRHR and gender-based violence for Punjab partner organisations - Punjab
Ujala has brought these diverse groups together at local and district levels for orientation, training and capacity building, empowering them to step-up and achieve impact in the face of restrictions and shrinking civil society space.
As a result, there is now a diverse group of organisations covering every district in Pakistan that are well placed to influence decision-making and are already making transformative impact:
- In Punjab, SRHR education is now included in the curriculum for young people in all schools of all districts. Awaz-CDS materials on the protection of children from abuse are taught in all government schools
- In the Senate of Pakistan, a resolution has been tabled on the empowerment of girls and the Child Marriage Restraint Act
- In Sindh, rules of business for the implementation of Child Marriage Restraint Act 2016 has been passed and district-level implementation committees have been formed. Members of the Ujala Network are following up the implementation and some are also part of district-level implementation committees
- The president of the Press Club in Peshawar has asked Ujala members to conduct training for journalists to build their capacity to highlight SRHR issues and increase coverage in the media
- In Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, the transgender community is now included in the health benefit scheme (Insaf Sehat Card) in both public or private hospitals across the province. This is the first ever health benefit to the transgender community across Pakistan
Below: Training Session with transgender community in Mardan-Khyber, Pakhtunkhwa
Awaz-CDS attributes their impressive successes to date to:
- The meaningful involvement of grassroots organisations and civil society members from the most disadvantaged and excluded groups across Pakistan
- The breadth of stakeholder participation in District and Provincial Advisory Panels – particularly from government - to support and guide the project
- Linking District and Provincial issues to national and international policy frameworks and commitments that Pakistan has made
- The AmplifyChange Network grant going to a local organisation which is trusted by grassroots partners to support policy change and civil society development
Above: Session with young teachers on stopping Gender-Based Violence, Khuzdar- Baluchistan
Awaz-CDS is now focusing on developing a comprehensive capacity assessment tool to enable them to offer tailored support to the organisations in the Ujala network.
Building the capacity of organisations in the network will ensure that grassroots activists are able to increase their participation and engagement at a time when civil society is facing significant restrictions and challenges.