1. Promoting gender equality
Gender parity is fundamental to whether and how economies and societies flourish. The constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan gives equal rights to both women and men. However, in actual women are rarely equal to their male counterparts. Here it is also important to place high value to the principle that each country has its own social, cultural,
demographic, economic, legal, and political etc. environment. Therefore, it is vital to understand the gender dynamics of a country in its own given context, also by taking in to account both “evolving changes” and “chronic problems”.
Although Gender equality means to ensure that women and men enjoy equal opportunities in all walks of life, women and girls are a major cause of gender inequality in Pakistan. Every so often, women and girls are discriminated against in health, education, political representation and job market, etc. Pakistan has a Gender Inequality Index value of 0.541 and is graded 133rd out of 160 countries. The likely years of schooling for women are 7.8 against 9.4 for men.
Girls and women have attained major steps since 1990, but they have not yet achieved gender equity. Ending all discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, it’s crucial for sustainable development; it’s proven that empowering women and girls helps economic growth and development.
To play our part in promoting gender equality we are working with Bali Memorial Trust that aims for gender parity particularly through mainstreaming of women in all walks of life, so that the full human potential could be mobilized which is crucial for the overall socio-economic development of the country.
The Charity presently runs two Schools, two Mother Child Hospitals, numerous Dispensaries, two Old People’s Homes, two Girl’s Shelter/Orphanages, a Women’s Crisis Centre and, an all-purpose Helpline Centre.
We are mainly associated with Girl’s Shelter/Orphanages to help the poor, sick and destitute girls. We are working to eradicate poverty by ensuring necessities of education, health and a strong support system, especially for women, girls and the elderly.
Bali Memorial Trust started in 2006 as girls’ Orphanage (Bali girls Shelter 1) and now houses up to fifty-seven girls/women. Shelter Home provides them with a place to live, where the duties of different girls belonging to different age groups are divided, for instance girls ranging from age 18-22 are assigned with the task of cooking turn wise. Here they have multiple rooms with good facilities of bedding and furniture. Led system is there for the purpose of entertaining the girls living there, keeping in view the fact that it does not affect their education and study routine. Coming to their education all the girls living under the
umbrella of this shelter acquire education which is also compulsory for all, to whatever age group they belong to. They have a full fledge facility of transport for the girls, through which they go to school, college or university every day. The school, which is the most important aspect of education journey, since it’s the foundation on which the entire structure is then built, is a trust-based school but the quality of education provided is one of its kind. The girls who complete their secondary education are encouraged to get admission for higher secondary and then professional degrees. Along with their education, special attention is paid to their extracurricular and entertainment activities. In the short run Bali Memorial Trust provides orphaned girls a stable family environment that instils community values and a sense of empowerment in them. In the medium term we also aim to provide counselling to girls to help them cope with past traumas, abuse and neglect.
And in long run we hope to nurture and inspire a new generation of women who are strong, intelligent and self-sufficient, and will continue to bring about a positive change in our society.
Below is an example of the achievement that our initiative has proven effective
Samina Akbar (Bali Orphanage)
Samina narrates how Bali Memorial Trust aided her to pursue her dreams and made her a productive citizen of the society:
“I had always dreamed of helping the people in the way of Allah but I was unable to pursue my dreams due to the financial conditions at my home. I heard about the BMT when I had discontinued my studies after Matriculation due to the financial problems. The chairperson of BMT, gave me a job at the BMT Shelter Home for girls where I looked after the young orphan girls. This was the type of work that I had always wanted to do and therefore I worked tirelessly to make the world less cruel for the young orphans. While working, I would use up all my free time to study and by the grace of Allah and with Mrs. Laila Nusrat’s help; I passed my graduation exam and managed a few courses to improve my IT skills. BMT also gave me Qarz e Hasna which helped me pay for my house. I am still working at the BMT where I contribute to make people’s lives better; just as Bali Memorial Trust transformed my life from a helpless poor girl to an independent graduate.”
2. Gender as a quality feature of our work
I started my career with GIZ’s Female Internship Programme which itself is a contribution of GIZ to its internal gender mainstreaming and aims to strengthen gender equality within GIZ itself and the services we deliver. And as a result, today I am working in the capacity of Training advisor as an equal contributor like my male counterparts.
Moreover, if we talk about our project Labour Standards Programme; my AV and Component Head they have made sure the equal representation of men and women in the project’s technical team to show their support for gender equality as Corporate Culture of GIZ. We men and women in our team are working together on equal terms across all hierarchical levels. After joining GIZ, we have been introduced to GIZ gender strategy in an introductory presentation on Gender Sensitivity.
If we talk about our clients, partners and stakeholders there are numerous examples that evaluates the positive impact of our gender-neutral strategy like the percentage of women workers has increased in one of our partner factory Vision Technology where they have changed their gender equality policy aiming greater participation of women in the workforce for overcoming under-representation
3. Gender and result-based monitoring
Below is one of the example of documented contribution to enhancing gender equality and gender mainstreaming in our project as an integral part of the monitoring and evaluation system.
Kaneez Fatima one of our partner factory worker narrates her success story of increased economic empowerment i.e. female population employability, access to markets and technical training.
Kaneez Fatima: From machine operator to supervisor
‘’I worked in this factory for last 3 years as a stitching operator. My last year’s average salary was around 16,000/-. Due to the GIZ project, I got an opportunity to learn about labour standards and productivity. This year I got promoted by the company to be a SUPERVISOR with a monthly Salary of Rs.28,000/-. This is a great motivation for me and an example for others in my company’’
It is true that Gender equality cannot be achieved by individuals alone. If we talk about our project Bali Memorial trust we collaborate with our friends, colleagues, partners, donors, civil society representatives and media for our efforts to enhance gender equality. The donors mostly arrange trips for these children, for example on 14th October of this year, the girls were taken on a special tour to army museum of Pakistan, by the donors, who including myself, were students of different universities, particularly Fatima memorial medical college. As these works cannot be done in isolation and a group work and cooperation is a prerequisite, the staff of army museum cooperated with the donors, and charged no ticket fares. So, an activity organized by the student donors eventually became a group activity
when the army staff collaborated. After they were done with the tour of museum the donors had arranged for their food, in which they were given the universal favourite meal of burgers.
The organisation mainly works on the principle of charity and philanthropy. The donors are usually private organisations or individuals. We as a group of friends all belonging to different organisations and educational backgrounds, visit the shelter on regular basis, interact with the girls, creating among them an awareness of their position in the society and highlighting the importance of quality education, in order to maintain that position. Upon all the visits whether informed or uninformed, we found a general sense of discipline which was maintained among the members of the house, the girls upon our arrival were mostly found engaged in their educational activities, which is a clear manifestation of the organisation’s conformity with the principles of its foundation.
Keeping in mind the age of my young country which is also in the middle of its journey to success, I would say that all the developed European states, or even the world Hegemon of the present day have gone through this phase of male hegemony and have gotten themselves out of it, and so will Pakistan. Gender is nothing but a social construction, I would say that we as a nation have started to initiate the process of social deconstruction if we want to achieve gender parity.