How can we change the power dynamics that exclude women from decision making? How can the barriers that prevent women from exercising their rights as equals to lead, to propose and to call to account be overcome?
Over the past five years, the Raising Her Voice (RHV) programme set out to find practical answers to these questions. In the process, more than 700,000 women in 17 countries have benefitted from the results.
This report looks at the experiences of the RHV programme in Pakistan, a complex and sensitive context, where women activists face both great opportunities and immense challenges.
Working in partnership with the Aurat Foundation (AF), the RHV programme organized 1,500 women activists, living and working in their communities, into ‘50 Women Leaders Groups’ (WLGs) in 30 districts across Pakistan. The aims of the WLGs were: to promote activism within their communities; to defend and promote women’s rights; to represent marginalized women; and to raise women’s collective voice at local and district levels, as well as, with AF’s support, at the provincial and national level.
As the RHV programme draws to a close, the experiences and achievements of the WLGs, with their strong national partnership and focus of community level activism, contain valuable insights for anybody working to promote women’s political participation and leadership in volatile and complex environments.