Archive | Featured

Tags: , , ,

Our Women Police on the Alert in Pakistan

Posted on 08 July 2014 by

This article was originally posted on Pakistan Horizon, the blog of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.

Police Woman, Sindh, Pakistan

Police Woman, Sindh, Pakistan

They looked quite impressive in their dark grey uniforms, those women policy officers, whose appointment and career Aurat Foundation celebrated in an event on 3 July 2014. They included the first woman district police officer in Pakistan, Naseem Ara Panhwer, who is credited with countering dacoits (bandits) on her beat, and finding her way well into criminal gangs; Shehla Qureshi, assistant superintendent of police in the Frere area of Karachi, resplendent in her slightly different unifrom as she came into the police force through the government’s competitive examination; Azra Memon, assistant deputy inspector general of traffic in Karachi; Masuma Changezi, who is superintendent of police traffice also in Karachi; and Hajra Sabiha, who is the station house officer (SHO) of the Artillery Maidan women’s police station in the heart of Karachi.

Although some of the officers mentioned above are senior, the most significant appointments are those of two station house officers in charge of all-male police stations in Karachi, Ghazala Siddiqui who holds charge of the Clifton police station and Inspector Zaibun Nisa, chief of Bahadurabad police station. The station house officer is the lynchpin of the policing system and the original power lies with her or him because the police station is the very place where the community interacts with the police. In Urdu and local languages, the police station is called a “thana”, a word which evokes fear and apprehension.

Deputy Inspector General Abdul Khalique Shaikh spoke to us about the journey of the Sindh police in deciding to give these crucial responsibilities to women police officers. He said that, in terms of sheer numbers, the percentage of women in our police force is negligible. There are 450,000 plus men in the police force in Pakistan, and only 4000 or so women police, that is, roughly less then one per cent. The Sindh police were keen that not only should the number of women in the force be increased, but that they should be entrusted with significant and effective roles, and not marginal roles. As a general rule, they are posted mostly in women’s police stations and are used as escorts for women prisoners, when women are arrested or when raids are conducted, especially in houses where families are present. The police bosses felt that from their marginalised position the women police should be brought into the mainstream into roles where they could address the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898. But would their colleagues in the police force and members of the community accept their authority?

Many barriers had to be crossed. It was necessary that in decision-making circles there should exist no prejudice against women occupying positions traditionally held by men, especially in a hardened force like the police, and that there should be faith in their ability to perform as well, if not better, than men. Abdul Khalique Shaikh and his superiors had this faith, and felt that it was time to take the next big step. Initially, they thought it would be prudent to create safe beats where women could be groomed as station house officers for a few months and then moved to actual police stations. But they gave up this idea and decided to go ahead without taking preliminary precautions. Abdul Khalique Shaikh looks forward to the day when he can recruit women in large numbers not only as officers but also as ordinary constables.

Still, some encouragement and persuasion was needed. Ghazala Siddiqui, the first woman station house officer, told us how she had to be reassured that her superiors would stand by her if she made mistakes but Inspector Zaibun Nisa, who holds charge of Bahadurabad police station within whose remit my own house is located, apparently offered to become a station house officer herself. On taking charge of her office, she put an end to routine corruption, sidelined the “beaters” (beaters are persons who collect money from the community) of her station and put four of them in jail, closed down “shisha” dens and proscribed “gutka”, an addiction which is the curse of many people. Unlike the prevailing culture of the thana, she stopped all food coming in from neighbourhood restaurants and snack bars. As one of her constables told me recently, “Madam is very strict”. It is significant that all the women officers said that they continue to receive support from their superiors and none of them complained of criticism from the members of the community on account of their being women.

As we listened to how these women confronted crime, which now includes bomb blasts and other terrorist activities, and managed traffic on the vehicle-laden roads and streets of Karachi, a city of 20 million people, our focus shifted to the person who represented decision-making in the Sindh police, Abdul Khalique Shaikh, and he became the eventual hero of our event. We were overjoyed when he told us that a woman police officer would soon be appointed as “muharir” ( the one who records complaints) in a thana in Karachi. The entire team of Aurat Foundation joined hands to give him, with applause and cheers, the last shield of the day.

In my final remarks, I focused on the work and career of these women police officers in the backdrop of the women’s movement in Pakistan. Their numbers may be negligible in the total police force in Pakistan, but for the women’s movement their appointment has been a giant step forward. That the police administration made these decisions was the result of many factors ― urbanisation, social change and social motility, education and the effect of the affirmative action with respect to women’s rights taken by successive governments. Sindh, with its more open and urbanised culture, has been the leader in legislation favouring women’s rights but we must not forget that the decision makers in this case have all been men.

Aurat Foundation, which has struggled for women’s empowerment since 1986, has always worked along with men in all its programmes. Unlike some other associations operating in the field of women’s rights, it has never followed a policy of confrontation with men as a genre. We were fortunate that we had the support of enlightened and educated men in all our endeavours. The earlier presidents of our Board of Governors ― before me ― were all men. Some of our leading executives are men and our citizens’ action committees in various districts comprise both women and men. The collaboration of our men colleagues has opened for us many doors in remote and conservative areas where access was difficult and tradition prevailed.

Therefore, it was a pleasure for me to thank DIG Abdul Khalique Shaikh and the male heirarchy in the Sindh police for taking the bold decision to empower women police officers. I thanked the Sindh government and could not resist acknowledging Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, for had he represented patriarchy in its traditional sense, these decisions could not have been made. How could it have been otherwise, though, for the Pakistan Peoples Party carries the legacy of Benazir Bhutto, in whose tenure the first women’s police stations were established in Pakistan?

Comments (0)

Strong Women of Egypt

Posted on 23 February 2014 by

Fifty five of those who drafted the new Egyptian constitution were women.

This was the climax of Egyptian women’s prominent participation in the two waves of Egypt’s revolution, January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013. During the first wave, ex-president Hosni Mubarak was toppled, along with his police state. During the second wave, ex- president Mohamed Morsi was also toppled, along with his religious state. Egyptian women were fighters during both waves; they were shot, injured, and arrested.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Another revolution in Egypt: Insights from Egyptian feminist Amal Abdel Hadi

Posted on 29 June 2013 by

Interviewed by Lina Abou-Habib
CRTD.A / WLP-Lebanon

Cairo, 29 June 2013

Less than 24 hours separate us from the large scale demonstration planned tomorrow in Egypt, calling for the departure of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi. Mursi was declared president in June 2013 following elections which were hailed in many parts of the world as being the first “free” elections in Egypt. However, and only a few months after his reign, disillusion and anger have swept into the Egyptian population who is challenging this new ruler as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. The President and his entourage is accused of incompetence and of failing the demands of the revolution.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

As Instability Grows, IMF Loan Could Threaten Egypt’s Most Vulnerable

Posted on 29 June 2013 by

By Olivia Alabaster, on behalf of WLP Lebanon/CRTD.A

Saturday, June 29

CAIRO: The implications of an IMF loan package to Egypt were discussed in further detail on the second day of a regional conference on economic justice and women’s rights Saturday organised by CRTD.A/WLP-Lebanon.

Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

Amidst New Waves of Protest, Activists Consider Economic Justice & Women’s Rights

Posted on 28 June 2013 by

By Olivia Alabaster, on behalf of WLP Lebanon/CRTD.A

CAIRO: On the opening day of WLP-Lebanon/CRTD.A’s regional conference on economic justice and women’s rights, delegates representing women’s organisations from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco met in Cairo to discuss the implications of Egypt’s current IMF (International Monetary Fund) negotiations for women.

Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

Fazil Jamili: A Confession of Crime

Posted on 11 June 2013 by

On 8 March 2013, the Provincial Assembly of Sindh unanimously passed a Bill against domestic violence which subsequently became an Act. On 30 March 2013, Aurat Foundation held a meeting of all stakeholders and those who had contributed towards the passage of this Bill. Poet Fazil Jamili dedicated this poem on this occasion to the women of Pakistan.

(Translated from Urdu by Dr. Masuma Hasan, President of the Board of Governors, Aurat Foundation, WLP’s partner in Pakistan, and Chairman of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. The translation was originally posted in the journal Pakistan Horizon.)

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

Day of Action: Let’s stop sexual and gender-based violence against women and children!

Posted on 30 May 2013 by

Gulbarchyn Jumabaevа of WLP Kyrgyzstan shares photos and an update on the local day of activism against sexual and gender-based violence.

DSCF3724

WLP Kyrgyzstan/Bir Duino Kyrgystan and civil society activists, representatives from women’s NGOs, and youth activists rallied today under the slogan: “Let’s stop sexual and gender-based violence against women and children!”

Each year the number of women and children facing violence in Kyrgyztsan increases, and the violence reported is more devastating in scale and form.

According to the Center for Assistance to Children, in the first quarter of 2013 they have already worked with 13 cases of child victims of sexual abuse. In 2011-2012 they worked with 254 children, 34 of which were victims of sexual abuse. And these figured merely represent the small portion of the population the Center is able to work with. According to an informal survey of doctors at a local children’s hospital 3-7 children are treated for injuries related to sexual assault each month.

The General Prosecutors Office reports that in 2011 there were 22 cases of domestic violence related suicides.

WLP Kyrgyzstan feels the hour has come when the whole community must say NO to violence against children and women, to demand the authorities take strong and effective measures and steps to improve the situation.

DSCF3702 DSCF3727

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

Engaging in policy dialogue on gender equality with a public institution: Thoughts and reflections from Lebanon

Posted on 20 May 2013 by

**WLP spoke with Lina about CRTD.A’s experience conducting the Gender Audit:**

Click here to listen to WLP’s interview with Lina Abou Habib on her organization’s Gender Audit of Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs (Audio File)

Nationality Campaign Protest for Women's Citizenship Rights in Lebanon with the Author

Nationality Campaign Protest for Women’s Citizenship Rights in Lebanon with the Author

During the past two years, CRTD.A concluded a very interesting and rich gender audit exercise in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs. This initiative came some time after CRTD.A had provided training on gender and leadership to most of the Ministry’s staff holding various positions within the institution.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

WLP Central Asia Regional Training – An Indescribable Experience

Posted on 16 May 2013 by

WLP guest-author, Bahriniso Shamsieva, is a Mine Action Project Assistant for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Tajikistan Office and also an activist with local NGO Marriage and the Family. She joined women from Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan at the WLP Central Asia Regional Training of Trainers Institute on Women’s Leadership and Political Participation in Shymkent, Kazakhstan this April as a participant. Bahriniso shares her reflections from the training below.

Bahriniso

Dear sister! I want to share my impressions on the WLP leadership training seminar in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. I have the most vivid and warm memories of the event, because it was an amazing opportunity to meet with so many unique women—both from neighboring Central Asian countries as well as from abroad. I realized that women around the world have shared vision for the world and our problems are very similar. And we can all easily understand each other and support each other. WLP as an organization is using their knowledge and experience to help us to unite and support each other.

Personally, working with these wise and active women who share similar passions, brought me great happiness and pleasure. Meeting with politician trainers— such as Asma Khader and other no-less inspiring women leaders— face-to-face, hearing them speak, and learning so much from them was an indescribable experience.

There were three of us women from Tajikistan at this Institute, and we were so pleased to have this opportunity. At this time, Tajik women are in need of such leadership trainings, as these trainings may help change their mentality and help them realize their place and significance, and find the strength to become more active in the personal and public arenas. While many of the preconditions for this kind of change are in place in our country, women still do not use their full potential and are not very active in politics and public life.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the organizers of this workshop training on behalf of the Tajik delegation and myself personally for inviting us and for this opportunity!

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Reflections from WLP Central Asia Regional Institute

Posted on 10 May 2013 by

WLP guest-author, Saida Arifkhanova, is trainer and facilitator for journalists with twenty years of experience and a public relations specialist in Uzbekistan. She joined women from Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan at the WLP Central Asia Regional Training of Trainers Institute on Women’s Leadership and Political Participation in Shymkent, Kazakhstan this April as a participant. Saida shares her reflections from the training below.

Saida Blog Post

This training made a very unique impression on me. The participants of this training were beautiful and stylish women, possessing strong character and leadership qualities. Participants were instantly happy to see each other and it was clear that something invisible united them. In all, there were women from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. And there were the four of us—women from Tashkent— representing Uzbekistan.

Gradually, I learned more about those who took part in the training and realized that each of these women has a unique position, and that each is successfully serving her community. Many participants work on issues such as human rights, women’s rights, and protecting women from abuse. I could sense their resolve to act decisively to achieve social change. I could also tell that these women held harmony and calm in their hearts, so when I heard about the struggles they faced everyday in their work I felt confused.

So, I asked many of the women if they were happy. At first my direct question seemed strange to them, and they did not answer me directly. Yet, as the days went by we began to communicate more closely, and many of the women came up to me and began talking to me. Gradually, our communication became more intimate and heartfelt.

I learned that each woman has a complex history behind her—the story of what pushed them to dedicate their lives to creating change. For some, that pivotal event was the experience of an ancient tradition of custom—for example bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan or norms that deny women a voice and a vote, and confine her to her role in her family. Some of what I heard was new to me, as I grew up in a family where my parents always discussed issues openly and made decisions together.

Some of the participants shared first-hand accounts of recent conflict in Kyrgyzstan and human rights abuses. As they shared their experiences and their stories, I realized that these women are making history and that each hard won freedom gives them personal strength and inspiration. So many of these life stories were piercing and unique. I began to see clearly that all of our women from Uzbekistan possess the same features and abilities as our peers in other Central Asian countries, but we have been completely overwhelmed by the need to maintain stability in our country.

During this training it became obvious that our countries are no longer as  similar to one another as they had been before and our realities are quite different today. Tajikistan has experienced a war, Kyrgyzstan has been through two revolutions and many difficulties, Kazakhstan is still overcoming the sharp shock of transition, and Turkmenistan faced leadership transition. In Uzbekistan, we are still struggling to maintain our stability, at the cost of many of the gains of independence. Still, while women in our countries do not speak the same language or share the same experiences, we very clearly understand each other and can relate to each other’s adversities.

Through the training it became very obvious that all these women are educated and independent, and that they will continue to do what they do despite these adversities. However, they still benefit from this access to better tools to support them and the work that they are doing for their communities.

Namely, they benefit from acquiring special skills and knowledge of topics such as,  modern public relations technology, effective communication skills, time management skills, and techniques for developing a vision. In addition to the training provided, this may require a special training facilitated by experts in all these areas. It is obvious that these women will be able to comprehend these complex topics, and from what I saw at the training these women could benefit from even more investment in their tremendous capacities.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

What do women want in the post-Arab spring era?

Posted on 26 April 2013 by

Two years after the start of the Arab Spring, women and girls in the Arab region seem to be the big losers of a process that promised much in terms of democracy and justice but has thus far delivered too little.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Following My Dreams: Reflections from WLP’s Central Asia Regional Institute

Posted on 23 April 2013 by

Maria Kolesnikova is a citizen journalist in Kyrgyzstan and a volunteer with WLP Kyrgyzstan/Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan. She joined women from Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan at the WLP Central Asia Regional Training of Trainers Institute on Women’s Leadership and Political Participation in Shymkent, Kazakhstan this April as a participant and to present on her own experiences utilizing social media for change as a citizen journalist. Maria shares her reflections from the training below.

Comments (0)

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Tag Cloud