After Gender Concerns International released its GEOM Report on the 2013 election in Pakistan, the AURAT Foundation filled a request for a re-polling. The AURAT Foundation requested that the Election Commission of Pakistan should declare elections null and void in constituencies where women's electoral rights were violated. As reported by the GEOM Report, violations included women being prohibited from voting through political party agreements or due to threatening circumstances. Thus, women's fundamental right to vote, as guaranteed by Pakistan's Constitution and its election rules, was infringed upon.
Following this request, a Peshawar High Court ruling ordered re-polling in several polling stations in two constituencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This is a landmark decision that shows how a strong transnational women's movement can further gender-inclusive electoral change by not accepting clear violations of women's rights.
Gender Concerns International conducted a successful Gender Elections Observation Mission in Pakistan in 2013. During the elections, the all-women GEOM team comprised of 110 national observers and 10 international observers. The GEOM team received capacity enhancement training organized by Gender Concerns International, which included democratic principles, the role of media and election observation methodology. On Pakistan's Election day, the GEOM team was deployed to 555 polling stations across the country to monitor elections with a gender lens also at various cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Swat.
In the Pre-Election Assessment Mission of March 2013, Director Sabra Bano of Gender Concerns International concluded that uncertainty surrounding the free and fair democratic participation of women which raised the need to observe the Pakistani elections of the National Assemblies from a gender perspective. The assessment mission concluded that the role of women of Pakistan in the democratic process of their country could not be underestimated and must be supported.
“Millions of people are affected by the flooding,” according to UN sources, “Many of those are women who are especially vulnerable to disease and the present harsh conditions. They need water, medicine, food and shelter urgently.”
PAIMAN (Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns) and the Aurat Foundation (working for women’s empowerment in Pakistan) appealed to Gender Concerns International to mobilize its Dutch and European supporters to act in support of the flood victims in Pakistan. In response, Gender Concerns International launched a joint initiative with the Pakistani Community and the Women for Water Partnership called ´People to People´.
One example of an area in which Gender Concern International and UNIFEM Pakistan’s cooperation will take place is technical support. Another is training opportunities for third national partners and stakeholders upon their request.
Together, Gender Concerns International and UNIFEM Pakistan aim to convene and facilitate consultations with women’s groups, gender-focused NGOs and various concerned civil society actors. Gender Concerns International and UNIFEM Pakistan are looking forward to an efficient and pleasant cooperation to reach their common goals together.
The delegation of Gender Concerns International was in Pakistan from 13 to 21 of February to observe the Pakistan elections on the 18th of February 2008, at the invitation of the Centre for Media and Democracy (CMD). The team of Gender Concerns International was part of a group of international observers from Serbia, Australia, Canada, India, United States, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Gender Concerns International team was assigned to cover Karachi and Lahore whilst other members of the team were dispersed throughout the country.
Gender Concerns International launched the ‘Hello Sirs!’ campaign in 2007. Its aim was to highlight the sixty years of women’s human rights violations in Kashmir and to raise international awareness about it. Through this campaign, Gender Concern International advocated that the men involved in the conflict be held accountable for the humanitarian crimes committed against women.
The campaign collected signatures, and organized various activities in Europe, including an exchange of women’s delegations from and to various parts of Kashmir. Further, the top elite in Kashmir, India, Pakistan, EU, UN and eventually Washington was approached to react to the voices from the international community for the women in Kashmir.
A small donation of 12,000 rupees was offered to Ms. Saira Kazmi, as a token of her untiring commitment to the children of the community in her tent camp in Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir. The donation was to provide warm clothing to the children and heating facilities in the tent class rooms during the winter. It was hoped that this donation would create a long-term friendship between the children of the First Step School Muzaffarabad and the school for Grafimedia in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Gender Concerns International was very pleased to establish the partnership between these two schools.
The first step tent school was visited earlier in November 2005 by Ms. Bano, when it was still located in Jalalabad-park, being the first tent school in Muzaffarabad after the earthquake, initiated by Ms. Saira Kazmi. Today, it has moved to another location and has many friends who are committed to help Saira and her community.
Ms. Bano explains: ‘Disasters do not distinguish between genders, but do impact men and women differently.’
During the visit, Gender Concerns International assessed the situation and came up with a plan to support the women in Aazad Kashmir. The programme is called Twinkle Women Centers Programme, as homage to the twinkle of courage and hope in the eyes of the women in Kashmir. Many of these disaster-struck women have lost their loved ones and life support, but have managed to stand up and help other people within their respective communities.