Welcome to the new edition of Rutgers WPF Pakistan’s e-newsletter. The third quarter has been geared towards progressing for the creation of an enabling environment where sexual and reproductive health and rights can be practiced by young people and women of Pakistan. To find out more, please read on!


Pakistan Alliance for SRHR Movement

Pakistan Alliance for SRHR Movement has been launched for the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, women and marginalized communities. The launch ceremony took place on September 29, 2012 at Islamabad. The Alliance comprises of eight leading non-government organisations from all over Pakistan - Rutgers WPF, Aahung, HANDS, PIDS, BRSP, Awaz CDS, Natpow and Kwendo Kor.

These eight organisations came together under the PSO supported Learning Work Trajectory programme to enhance their quality of work on SRHR though capacity development, reflection and action learning, and holistic approach. At the conclusion of the LWT initiative these organisations resolved that what they have learnt will not come to a conclusion and subsequently decided to form an Alliance to trigger an SRHR Movement in Pakistan.

The launch ceremony, organised by Rutgers WPF Pakistan, was attended by members of Provincial Assemblies from Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, leading civil society representatives, and media practioners. During the event various members of the Alliance discussed various facets of SRHR and the importance of the realization of these rights for the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan Alliance for SRHR Movement envisages a society which is fair, safe, and equal for all in the context of SRHR.


National Youth Council

A National Youth Council has been established to ensure that youth have meaningful participation in planning, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the schools4life project’s policies, strategies and programme. The NYC will be governed and run by young people (boys and girls) going through LSBE education and comprises of total 20 youths with equal representation of both males and females, 5 from each of the 4 target districts of the programme i.e. Multan, Quetta, Lahore and Islamabad.

The inception meeting was held with the participants on October 7, 2012. The objective of the meeting was to get all the NYC members together at one place and formally announce the formation of the National Youth Council. NYC members were given detailed information on schools4life along with aims, objectives, responsibilities and tasks of the National Youth Council (NYC). NYC cabinet was also formed which comprised of a President, Vice-President and Secretary. These cabinet members were selected after an election process carried out. The interactive nature of the meeting provided the members with the opportunity to get to know each other and work as a team.


Launch of Media Handbook on SRHR

A dialogue on media practices and ethics with regards to reporting of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues was held, followed by the launch of a media handbook, a guidebook for journalists of Pakistan, on August 7, 2012, in Islamabad. The event, held at SAFMA Media Centre, by Rutgers WPF Pakistan in collaboration with SAFMA, involved many prominent names from media and civil society organisations, including Mohammad Zia-ud-din, Chairman Pakistan Media Commission, Myra Imran, an award winning journalist, and Yasmin Qazi, renowned reproductive health expert and the senior country adviser at the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

The focus of the dialogue was on how all stakeholders, especially media persons, can acknowledge the sensitivity of the subject of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) when discussing these issues in public domain. The panel discussion centered on the issues faced by media personnel when reporting on sexual and reproductive health issues — ranging from lack of adequate terminology, especially in Urdu language, to the strong reaction received from certain segments of society, and the general public’s lack of awareness regarding these issues.

The dialogue concluded with the launch of the media handbook, which provides media professionals with the necessary information regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights of people in Pakistan.

The media handbook for journalists was highly appreciated by the participants because it provides comprehensive information regarding the SRHR situation in Pakistan. It was recommended suggested that it should be widely circulated in the journalist community.


Parwan Alliance in Districts

Parwan has established an alliance at district level with civil society organisations in the project districts of Multan and Quetta in order to promote SRHR and sexual gender based violence (SGBV) interventions. The Parwan District Alliance was formed in Multan on August 3, 2012, which comprises of 10 CSOs; in Quetta, the Parwan District Alliance comprises of 13 CSOs, which was formed on August 8, 2012. The District Alliance will work towards creating an enabling environment for SRHR at district level by engaging actively with various government departments, religious leaders and media personnel. The Alliance will bring all these as well as other stakeholders on one platform and start a discourse on SRHR and share their experiences, strategies and modus operandi to address youth SRH and SGBV issues at community level. Representatives from different government departments, including Education, Health, Population Welfare, Women and Youth Affairs were also present for the Alliance formation and assured of their cooperation with the Alliance.

To promote greater discourse on SRHR, a policy dialogue was also held on ‘‘Including LSBE in to provincial curriculum for secondary and high secondary level” in Quetta on August 31, 2012. Policy makers, officials from Health and Education Departments, Representatives from civil society organizations, SRHR and education experts, youth representatives, media personnel and teachers participated in policy dialogue and carried out discussion on the importance of Life Skills Based Education for adolescents.


Adolescent Girls Empowerment

Rutgers WPF has been actively engaged with the Women Development Department, Government of Sindh in an effort to end the practice of child marriages under the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Project. In this regard a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July with the Women Development Department under the leadership of Minister for Women Development, Ms. Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, amidst a strong presence of other government department leadership including health, youth and legal departments.

The ownership exhibited by the Minister was pivotal in the series of consultative meetings carried out in the last quarter by the AGE team with various stakeholders including religious leaders, representatives of civil society organizations, members of National and Provincial Assemblies, Government Line Departments and media personnel. The purpose of these meetings were to discuss the findings of the Power Mapping and Consultative Process Exercise that was carried out to examine the socio-cultural norms of the society as well as the power dynamics that play a decisive role in early age marriages. The guidance of these leaders will play a key role in the formulation of strategies to bring about an end to the practice of early marriages, as well as to raise the legal age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years. After obtaining the feedback from the stakeholders, the findings were then shared with the Expert Panel of the AGE project.


Project Support Committee for HARP

To enhance participation of the local stakeholders in HArm Reduction Project (HARP), Rutgers WPF in collaboration with the District Coordinating Officer (DCO) established a Project Support Committee in all three HARP Districts- Jhelum, Gujrat and Kasur.

The first meetings of the project support committees were held on September 22, 2012 in Gujrat, and October 2, 2012 in Kasur, which were attended by the DCO, Police Department, Education, Health and other relevant departments as well as representatives of civil society and media of respective districts. The project support committees will meet once in six months to review project progress and suggest measures to improve the performance of HARP in respective districts.


Day of action for Malala and girls' right to school

(By Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, October 2012)

A million people around the world signed a petition backing Malala Yousafzai.

Almost one million people worldwide have signed their name to call on both the Pakistan government and the United Nations to achieve Malala Yousafzai's aim - that every girl has the opportunity to go to school.

Full story available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20045482


Lack of political will, funding killing Pakistani women

(By Sehrish Wasif, Published in The Express Tribune, July 2012.)

ISLAMABAD: World Population Day is being observed by the international community since 1989 in order to focus on the urgency of population issues in the context of an overall development plan.

The theme for 2012 is Universal Access to Heath Reproductive Services. Pakistan does not fare too well in this department. In fact, it has one of the poorest maternal and health indices in the world, along with Ethiopia and Uganda.

Full story available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/406500/lack-of-political-will-funding-killing-pakistani-women/


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