Reclaiming urban and rural spaces for women of Pakistan- Extract from BuildPeace Conference 2020

At Women4peacetech we provide digital trainings to reclaim urban and rural spaces for women for their economic empowerment. Also, to empower women through technology for positive peace.

The idea for women4peacetech formed back in 2018 while I was working with the co-founder of women4peacetech on the Build Peace project where we interacted with women and realized Pakistan stands on the 2nd last number on Gender Equality Index. Women have restricted rights to mobility here. And you know that it’s such an important right for economic empowerment, and in that way more than 50% of the population in Pakistan i.e. women is restricted in getting the economic opportunities.

In this scenario, they are not able to claim any significant places in both urban and rural spaces but the social media and the digitalized age has given them one opportunity where they can work from their homes, from the sanctity of the their home and they can earn a livelihood, intern getting economically empowered and making their own decisions to improve their own and their family lives.

My personal expertise revolves around digital media. I work as a Social Media Strategist and I look at this part of the trainings. I provide in-person trainings on social media and freelancing, on how women can use freelancing platforms to earn a stable livelihood from the ease of their homes.

Everything was working fine until Covid 19 came and changed everything. In the times of Covid, women could not get out of their homes, there was a strict lockdown from March 2020 till September. So it was become more important that women has some access to online help in case of domestic violence. You know that the domestic violence cases also increased all over the world. In Pakistan, 25% increase in domestic violence cases was reported during the lockdown with 3,217 cases between March and May alone.

I myself is an independent woman, along with so many other women who I have been training along were working on freelancing platforms and I am glad that they were working independently on such platforms otherwise it could have been a mess. Like I know a lot of people who lost their jobs to Covid. There were single mothers who have been supporting their families but lost their jobs because of the financial loss that companies faced all over the world.

In the past 2 years, we have already approached 1000 households and trained the women but due to pandemic there were accessibility issues.
So in such times, we really needed a platform where we could help and support such women. So I, along with my colleagues worked on creating an internal communication server which could be used to give special online trainings to women and also provide them a platform to update us on any domestic violence concerns and issues.

We also used this platform to link women concerns related to domestic violence to concerned authorities so that a legal action could be taken. To make sure that everything works smoothly we collaborated with Ministry of Women Development.

Why we initiated it? Because we had access to such authorities. It wasn’t a smooth path, as we also faced obstacles and problems. Initially, there were connectivity and communication issues since the server for online training and reporting was new, so we had a developer on standby for 25/7 who was constantly working to maintain the server and keep it up and running for all the women out there. Gladly after a month of ups and downs we finally resolved everything with the help of the IT team. The women whom we had trained before also helped us in communicating and onboarding more women on the platform.

Furthermore, we also had a well-being checklist where the registered women were to update us at least once a week so that we know that they are doing fine in the lockdown and the overall domestic violence situation. And that social justice was served right in such scenarios.
Also, on the behalf of many women, their concerns and problems related to domestic violence were communicated to the concerned authorities using Pakistan Citizen Portal. And every information was shared with their consent. Side by side we also conducted trainings on how to use Pakistan Citizen Portal which allowed these women to submit their problems on their own since most women didn’t know how to use the portal.

Lastly, there are many other concerns when it comes to reclaiming urban and rural spaces for women. But since our expertise included digital media, we thought of empowering women through it by providing them the trainings that could help them work independently. If you have any queries or you want to know more about our organization feel free to reach out to us on the given contact details.

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