Aurat Foundation

Filed under:
October 4, 2011

Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation (Aurat Foundation) is a national, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to working for women's empowerment and democratic governance in Pakistan. It has its headquarters in Islamabad and four regional offices in  Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta  with over 120 employees. It is a major support organization for civil society organizations, federal, provincial, and local governments and political parties, among other public and private institutions, with an extensive countrywide network of voluntary citizens’ groups and individual activists in the 110 districts of Pakistan.

 

 

Aurat Foundation acts as a catalyst to enable critical groups to influence policy, legislation and programmes for greater economic and political power for women in society. In advocacy on women's rights issues, Aurat Foundation has strategised to develop linkages grassroots organizations and macro-level decision-makers. A mutually collaborative relationship has developed with various departments and organs of the Government of Pakistan.The work of Aurat Foundation has developed into an over-arching Objective for ‘Strengthening Civil Society for Women’s Participation in Governance in Pakistan.’ This objective is operationalised by the three key Programmes of the Foundation:

 

  • The Information Programme for Grassroots Organization and Action by Women
  • The Programme for Strengthening Citizens’ for Advocacy and Action for Women
  • The Programme for Affirmative Legislation and Policies for Women

 

The three Programmes are in turn supported by institutional structures integrated into Aurat’s work, and which include its Information Network Centres, Citizens Action Committees and Legislative Watch Groups. Finally, Aurat Foundation has identified three strategic areas of intervention to define the operational parameters for these Programmes:

  • Information for women to build their capacity for decision-making and action, and information about women’s issues and concerns to decision makers,
  • Capacity building of citizens groups, public authorities and public representatives to support women’s participation in decision-making and their activism, as well as to enhance their access to opportunities and facilities at the local and district levels,
  • Advocacy for developing an enabling environment for women’s empowerment and participatory democracy in Pakistan.

 

Mission

To create, facilitate and strengthen civil society groups and networks for promoting trust and collaboration among citizens to mobilise public pressure for women's empowerment in the country.

 

Vision

The creation of a just, democratic and caring society in Pakistan, where women and men are recognised as equals, with the right to lead their Lives with self-respect and dignity.

 

Values and Culture

  • Commitment to women's causes        
  • Caring and sharing
  • Space for discussion
  • Nurturing of colleagues
  • Friendly environment
  • Sense of belonging and ownership
  • Mutual trust and respect
  • Participatory decision-making
  • Encouragement of initiatives

 

Main Goals

  • To enable women to acquire greater access to knowledge, resources and institutions;
  • To influence attitudes and behaviour for a social environment responsive to women's concerns and people-centred issues;
  • To facilitate citizens' active participation in the process of social change and governance at all levels.

 

Major National Campaigns:

·         Aurat Foundation has launched several advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns at the national level over the years.  Some of these include:

·         National campaign for the recognition of women's work in the Fifth National Census in 1998

·         National campaigns for putting women's rights issues on the electoral agenda of the 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 General Elections

·         Campaigns for the repeal of discriminatory laws, e.g. the Hudood laws and 'honour' crimes and ending violence against women

·         National campaign since 1990s for 33% reservation of seats for women in legislatures

·         National campaigns for relief and rehabilitation of survivors of natural disasters during earthquake 2005, IDPs crisis in 2009 and floods in 2010

·         National campaign for the rights of indigenous people in Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights in 1998

·         National campaigns for CNICs and voter registration of women on regular basis

·         Citizens' campaigns for women's representation in local government elections 1998-99, 2000 and2005

·         National campaign for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002, 2003 and 2004

 

Women's economic empowerment:

Aurat Foundation's critical role is to strengthen and facilitate civil society organisations working with   informal sector women workers to enable them to increase their productivity and incomes, get recognition under labour laws and become eligible for social protection. The emphasis is on providing  grants, undertaking advocacy for women's economic empowerment through gender-responsive budgetary allocations, and incorporation of women's concerns into the macro-economic policy framework and social protection programmes.

 

Relief, rehabilitation and disaster management:

Aurat Foundation responded to Pakistan's floods in 2010 by immediately launching the 'Motherland Flood Relief Campaign.' Through its grassroots networks in all districts of Pakistan, Aurat was able to respond rapidly to the catastrophe through its nation-wide flood relief campaign. The 'Motherland' campaign website became a hub of local, regional, and international relief activity, with the support of its regional and international partners. Addtionally, during the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) crisis in 2008-2009, and to date, it has been involved in major local initiatives to protect vulnerable children and women in Swabi, Mardan, and Swat. During the 2005 earthquake, it was a leading national organisation to support earthquake victims. Through this work, Aurat Foundation has also developed a draft 'National Policy on IDPs.'

 

Women's political empowerment  

This remains a key area of work and includes specific program activities in political education and activism to ensure women's involvement in defining their political and social environment. Interventions include seminars, public meetings, and dissemination of information. Program material and events highlight the role and performance of women legislators, leaders, and councillors, and the measures taken for strengthening their role in political and decision-making institutions. 

 

Ending violence against women

Ending violence against women is critical for women's empowerment. Aurat Foundation advocates measures such as policy reform, positive legislation and strengthening law and enforcement mechanisms, in addition to focused advocacy for elimination of violence against women and implementation of procedures to support female victims and survivors of violence.

 

Democratic governance through transparent and accountable practices

Aurat Foundation works for building and strengthening the foundations of a sustainable democracy including: national consensus on strengthening participatory, transparent, and accountable governance; and impartial, free and fair elections to restore the electorate's rapidly declining faith in the electoral process. Issues like disenfranchisement of women, intra-party women's quotas on general seats, and access to disaggregated data are also highlighted.

 

Repeal of discriminatory laws

This is a key area of Aurat Foundation's work. Total repeal or reform of discriminatory laws Against women and minorities, such as the Hudood  Ordinances, the Law of Evidence, the Qisas and Diyat provisions in the Pakistan Penal Code and the Citizenship Act remain high on our agenda as these laws still carry a number of discriminatory provisions. Elimination of negative customary practices against women is also pursued.

 

Institutionalising response from government and political parties

Aurat Foundation pursues official commitments and decisions announced in public or in party manifestoes by governments and political parties through policy dialogue and advocacy with decision-makers and political party leaders for increasing women's access to information, resources and decision-making. It seeks their institutionalisation through notifications, directives, budgetary allocations and agreements and works for their implementation in letter and spirit.

 

Partners in Struggle

Over the years, Aurat Foundation has established and is continuing to support and facilitate: 

73 Citizens' Action Committees (CACs) at the district level in Pakistan and AJK.

2600 Information Network Centres (INCs) at the grassroots level across Pakistan.

110 District Coordination Committees in all districts of Pakistan.

Women Leaders Groups in 30 districts of Pakistan.

 

Aurat Foundation has five Legislative Watch Groups at the federal and provincial levels.  Also, it has a cadre of around 700 social and political activists. It is a member of Women's Action Forum, Pakistan National Forum, Joint Actions Committees, Pakistan Social Forum, Sustainable Agriculture Action Group, Insani Haqooq Ittahad, Aman Ittehad, People's Resistance, Alliance for Protection of Human Rights and All Balochistan Political Women's Forum. 

 

Regional and global partners

In addition to Women's Learning Partnership, Aurat Foundation has linkages with the following major regional and global networks:

  • HomeNet South Asia, a Mauritius-based network which has chapters in all South Asian and Asia-Pacific countries, working on issues and rights of home-based women workers
  • South Asian Network of Gender Activists and Trainers (SANGAT), a Nepal-based network with partners in all South Asian countries,  working on issues of gender and feminism
  • International Women's Rights Action Watch - Asia Pacific (IWRAW-Asia-Pacific), a Malaysia-based organisation with partners across the world, working on CEDAW follow-up mechanisms and capacity-building
  • South Asian Network for Widows' Empowerment in Development (SANWED), a Nepal-based network, working on the empowerment and rights of widows

 

Main Strategies

  • Information for women to build their capacity for decision-making and action, and information about women's issues and concerns to decision makers
  • Capacity building of citizens' groups, public authorities and public representatives to support women's participation in decision-making and their activism, as well as to enhance their access to opportunities and facilities at all levels
  • Advocacy for developing an enabling environment for women's empowerment, social justice, peace and democratic governance in Pakistan 
  • Grant-making to NGOs, CBOs, policy think tanks, academic research and training institutions, professional associations and gender entities to facilitate behavioral change in society by enabling women to access information, resources and institution

 

Aurat Foundation's Contribution to Major Achievements:

  • Aurat Foundation has contributed, over the years, to the following achievements anddevelopments in the interest of women and citizens of Pakistan:
  • Increased awareness & sensitisation on women's rights issues
  • Wide-spread support against discriminatory laws and customary practices
  • National development plans and policies for women
  • Reservation of seats for women in legislatures
  • Formation of citizens' groups, networks and coalitions
  • Development of social capital in Pakistan
  • Mainstreaming gender into laws and policies
  • Relationships with political parties and legislators
  • Relationships with legal and media fraternity
  • Support to women public representatives & legislators
  • Formation and strengthening of National Commission on the Status of Women
  • Amendments in Muslim Family Laws Ordinance
  • Response to disaster situations, e.g earthquake, flood, IDPs crisis
  • Follow-up on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

 

AURAT PUBLICATION AND INFORMATION SERVICE FOUNDATION

ISLAMABAD (Head Office):  House No. 12, Street No.12, F-7/2, Islamabad, Pakistan. Tel: 051-2608956-8 Fax: 2608955

LAHORE:  House No.  5-6/3, Raja Kamla State Canal Park Gulberg II Lahore 54000, Pakistan.Tel: 042-35959027-9, Fax: 042-35764275

KARACHI:  D-3/1,Block-7,KDA Scheme 5 Clifton Karachi 75600, Pakistan. Tel: 021-35874718-35824694 -35830195 Fax : 35864885

PESHAWAR:  House No. 42-B,Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Road, University Town, Peshawar 25000, Pakistan. Tel: 091-5704581-2, Fax 5704576

QUETTA:  House No. 57/4 Meeri  Fourt Road off Zarghoon Road Quetta, Pakistan Tel: 081-2821282, Fax 2820957

 

Information: http://www.af.org.pk, Mail: PO Box No. 1105, Islamabad, Pakistan

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