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International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day 2015 #Make it Happen represents a celebration of the achievements of women in Pakistan towards a more inclusive and equitable society. Partnership for Resilience (P4R) Pakistan marked the Day with a lively debate to raise awareness and encourage dialogue with all sectors of society around effective action for women’s empowerment.

The debate titled “Make it happen – All overseas development funding should address gender equality and gender based violence to build resilient and safe communities in Pakistan”, brought together key players involved in disaster and development in Pakistan including the government and civil and private sectors. Ms. Annette Hearns, Deputy Head UNOCHA, Mr Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO Pakistan Pverty Alleviation Fund, Ms Abida Akram, National Forum for Women with Disabilities/STEP, Ms Khalida Salimi, OBE, Founder/Executive Director SACH, Ms Mossarrat Qadeem, Executive Director, Paiman Alumini Trust, Ms Asiya Nasir, Member National Assembly  were actively involved in making the event a success.  Ms Asiya Nasir was also the chief guest at the occasion.

Addressing the occasion, Chief Executive Officer, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Qazi Azmat Isa, focused on the empirical link between gender related outcomes and improved socio-economic indicators, emphasizing on Pakistan’s lack of progress on Human Development Index indicators as we feature amongst the lowest 10 countries on the continuum. He referred to both religious and traditional values that encourage rather than hinder such outcomes, particularly while working with rural communities. He referred to Pakistan’s position on achieving the Millennium Development Goals and commented on how working through deliberate, gender centered outcomes would greatly improve this.

The debate centered on the facts that in early recovery programmes, only 22 per cent of funds from cash contributions were directly disbursed to women in 2013 while more than 75 per cent of the 80 million people projected to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2014 were women and children.

P4R support the many voices now being heard in Pakistan advocating for improvement in women and girls’ equality and one who stands out as  an example of who ‘made it happen’ is Malala Yousafzai, joint winner of the 2014 Nobel peace prize for her education campaign work.

P4R is an alliance of seven NGOs working together in Pakistan to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population in times of disaster and post disaster. By working for and through local communities P4R builds the capacity of communities to be more resilient in time of disaster and enable them to recover quicker.

“2015 is a critical year for gender equality, as this year global leaders will conclude three key global processes that set the development agenda for the next 15 years: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following Millennium Development Goals, the post 2015 Hyogo Framework 2, and the Climate Change agenda. This is a unique opportunity for us to urge our Governments to ensure gender equality is not forgotten and call for a standalone goal on gender to be set in the SDGs, with clear targets and indicators for women’s empowerment and participation. This must, I feel, go further, with gender specific commitments cutting across all SDG goals and each of the 3 global processes. This is an opportune time for the Government of Pakistan to take up the banner for gender equality and champion it on the global stage”, said Neva Khan, Country Director of VSO and Chair of the P4R Steering Committee.

Each year, since 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women across the world. International Women’s day is also known for its #Paint it purple tag where the colour purple represents justice and dignity, two values upheld by P4R and used by all organizations in solidarity as we call for greater equality.

Community World Service Asia held the second joint standards training, ‘Enhancing Quality and Accountability throughout Project Cycle Management in humanitarian action and non-emergency,’ in Asia from January 19-23, 2015. Thirty participants representing 21 organizations from thirteen countries attended the five-day training in Bangkok, Thailand. The training was designed and facilitated by Sylvie Robert and co-facilitated by Community World Service Asia’s team member, Rizwan Iqbal, and Go Igarashi from Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan.

The main quality and accountability initiatives were introduced to participants which helped them understand the significance of linkages between various standards. With the launch of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) and an increased pressure on agencies to adopt joint standards, the training provided an opportunity to identify key quality and accountability initiatives. Participants were able to select existing quality and accountability tools unique to their context and apply them throughout the project cycle, from the initial assessment phase, through the implementation, and finally the evaluation and learning phases. The training also assisted participants with opportunities to collaborate and coordinate with other agencies to improve quality and accountability in humanitarian response. This was achieved through various participatory learning and sharing methods, and a resource kit for each participant helped enable analysis of existing tools with fieldwork.

An active methodology allowed for creative learning and sharing throughout the training. Through a specific group activity, participants identified the implementation of quality and accountability initiatives by sharing examples from the field. Work in pairs formed after a brainstorming session allowed the groups to prepare short presentations on some quality and accountability initiatives and deliver those in plenary to share information with their colleagues.

Participants benefited from various types of practical exercises, such as a case study and a field school (real life exercise) to explore and understand the use of the quality and accountability tools in distinct contexts as well as the crucial need to select and adapt them.

 “The case studies were quite useful, they allowed us to concretely apply the standards and consider them during PCM stages.”

“I learned about quality and accountability – the theory and practice during the group exercise.”

“Review of the tools was exactly what I needed. It was really helpful to use them in practice.”

Presentations on key approaches such as the rights-based approach and accountability to beneficiaries, as well as on more transversal themes including disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), resilience, and the link between relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD), enabled participants to deepen their knowledge and share experiences from the region.

As the training concluded, participants agreed that a need exists to increase knowledge on quality and accountability approaches, initiatives, and tools in preparedness to ensure its effective use at the time of a disaster. The participants highlighted the need for future training on: Core Humanitarian Standards; training of trainers (ToT) on Sphere, quality and accountability, and complaints response mechanism (CRM); and separate training on each of the quality and accountability initiatives.

Participants were encouraged to collaborate with other agencies to improve quality and accountability in humanitarian action and agreed to seek future coordination, information, ideas, and other requirements.