Event

A theater play was performed by a local theater group called Pirbhat.

A district level event to commemorate International Women’s Day was held with participation of local communities, humanitarian and relevant government body representatives on the 28th of March (2019) in Mirpurkhas. This event, with an attendance of over two hundred participants, was organized by Community World Service Asia’s team under its Gender Mainstreaming project in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department of Mirpurkhas.

Sayyada Banu, Additional Director of Social Welfare Sindh, and Nafisa Qurban, Deputy Director of Social Welfare, Sindh, graced the event as special guests to applaud and promote the accomplishments of Sindh’s rural women. Other guests at the event included representatives of District Information, District Bar Association, District Council, the Police Department, and the District Municipal Department.

Agha Sardar, Project Officer at CWSA’s Umerkot office, welcomed the guests and shared the objective of the event, which was to congregate different people from different segments of life to honor and acknowledge the contribution of rural women towards the development of a prosperous and empowered society.

Today we celebrate the inspiring role of women around the world and encourage them to work towards achieving women’s rights and build more equitable societies,

said Kiran Bashir, Project Manager, CWSA, as she addressed the audience while briefly introducing the project as well.

Sumaira Baloch, an active Social Worker in Mirpurkhas district, spoke on the topic too.

Women have been created beautifully. They can work as hard as men. However, women face many challenges due to which they often lack behind in different fields of work. Every day should be celebrated as women’s day, to highlight these challenges and the remarkable ways in which women can and do overcome these challenges. Issues such as harassment at work, domestic violence and discrimination require immediate attention and action plan. We need to honor and respect women who choose to come out of their homes and work and allow them opportunities to work along with men with pride and honor.

Appreciating CWSA’s efforts towards organizing the IWD event at a district level, Shagufta, an advocate by profession and an active social worker expressed,

I am pleased to be part of this event which honors the contribution of women towards the betterment of the society. I truly believe in both genders thinking and working together for a successful development process. As member of the District Engagement Group (DEG), working under the EVC Project, we aim to listen to the voices of marginalized communities. We want to ensure that no one is left behind.

Nusarat Miyano, a vigorous social worker in Mirpurkhas shared the everyday challenges a woman faces as a housewife or as a professional. She talked of the harassment that young girls and woman face at educational institutes and workplaces as a key challenge. 

It is important to build awareness regarding the existing laws in the country that protect women. Sessions must be held so that women can fight for their rights to overcome these challenges.

As part of the event, a theater play was performed by a local theater group called Pirbhat[1]. The play highlighted the essential role of women in decision-making, especially in matters related to child marriages, girl’s education and economic empowerment. Koshaliya, an artisan in Umerkot since 2015, was invited on stage to share her views of women empowerment.

CWSA gave me an opportunity, such that most women of our community can only dream of. Their livelihoods team facilitated us with a six months vocational and adult literacy training. My life changed dramatically after that. I became a Sales Marketing Agent and received other trainings on skill development as well. I visited Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to promote our handicrafts. Our products were appreciated at national level as they were exhibited through exhibitions and fashion shows. We are continuously getting orders of embroidered apparel with the support of the CWSA. As a result, more than a thousand women, residing in remote villages of Umerkot, have become economically stronger and are supporting their families in many different ways.

Radha Bheel, another local social worker, congratulated all the participating women for their numerous achievements, despite the many social and cultural hindrances they face in their communities.

We live in a male dominant society, where it is difficult for a woman to even move freely. In a world like this, I commend the women of today for the many achievements they have made. This shows that women have the capabilities and talent to prove that they can achieve the impossible.

This was followed by a screening of a short video case story that demonstrated the skill building journey of the artisans and how that eventually lead to the launch of commercial handicrafts brand, called Taanka, for them.

Addressing the attendants, Shafique Husain Memon, Divisional Director Information Mirpurkhas, congratulated CWSA for organizing an event that appreciates women in every walk of life. He stressed on the importance of educating women.

We all have the responsibility to promote the rights of women in every field and honor their contributions towards change and progress.

Sayyada Baano, expressed,

I feel fortunate to be attending this dynamic event especially organized to celebrate International Women’s Day. Women play a strong role along with men in building a harmonious society. However, there is need for women to participate freely and openly. The Sindh Government is making efforts to protect the right of women by putting emphasis on strong implementation on laws such as Domestic Violence Act 2013. This will facilitate deprived women and protect them from the social evils.

The poor condition of women living in Dar-ul-Amman[2] has saddened me. Women are neglected, scared and tortured. It is unfortunate to see how the society, especially the male dominant segment, has dealt with this. I assure you that the Government of Sindh will take strong actions in protecting women’s rights to build a safe society for women to live peacefully and freely.

Junaid Mirza, Assistant Director Social Welfare Mirpurkhas, thanked the guests and speakers for honoring the women of today. He assured to hold and support such events with the collaboration of Government departments.  Traditional Sindhi Ajraks[3] were presented as gift to the speakers and dignitaries at the closing ceremony of the event.


[1] A local theater group formed under the livelihoods project. Members of the group were trained under the project.

[2] A shelter home for women victims of violence.

[3] Ajrak (Sindhi: اجرڪ‎) is a unique form of block printed shawls and tiles found in Sindh, Pakistan.

I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate

Women’s Day is an international event that celebrates women’s achievements and calls for global gender equality. It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognized each year on March 8th.

The theme for this year’s Women’s Day, Think equal, build smart, innovate for change, focuses on inventive ways to promote gender equality and empower women, in areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, it is first essential to understand the barriers that women and girls face on the way to progress and change and what support can be provided to them to overcome these challenges. This will be followed by designing and implementing deliberate steps to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind in the flight to success and progress.

On this Women’s Day in Pakistan, we are celebrating the extraordinary work and effort of some ordinary, yet special, women who are leaving their footprints of change, innovation and development in the area of gender equality.

Nimra, dropping her elder sister to the academy.

Nimra, driving out gender stereotypes in the heart of rural Sindh

Nimra Shaikh, a BBA student at the University of Sindh, is changing the mobility trends of women in Mirpurkhas district in Sindh Province.

The area I reside in is very conservative. If women are provided with education, it is considered more than enough for them. However, my father has been my source of encouragement towards letting me live my life to the fullest. His main priority for me was not only getting me educated but ensuring that I participate in extra-curricular activities as well. I ride a motorbike and now I am learning to drive a car. I wish to join The Pakistan Air Force one day. In the near future, I will be appearing in the initial test for Pakistan Air Force. When other girls in my university see me riding a bike, they approach me and ask me to teach them how to ride it too. I also drop my elder sister to her academy sometimes as well. In addition, whenever my father needs a drop somewhere I am always up and ready for it. Women can progress and shine in any field they desire if they are given equal opportunities. Moreover, the prominent role of family members in support of their daughters, sisters, wives encourage oneself to achieve the impossible. I hope to one day make my country proud.

Sajida is motivating many women in remote villages to step up and spread awareness.

Sajida, pioneering health awareness for the women of village Ranta in Thatta

Sajida, a 41-year-old member of the Health Committee[1] in Ranta village, has been an active participant of trainings and capacity enhancement exercises in the area.

With a below average literacy rate in most remote villages of Thatta, Sajida has taken it upon herself to conduct health sessions in the local language for the women of Ranta. She raises awareness among women on basic health rights and practices so that these rural women can lead to fulfilling and healthier lives. Sajida’s enthusiasm to learn, teach and lead led her to become the Community Resource Person of Ranta for a Cash Assistance project, implemented by another national non-governmental organization.

Women are now considering family planning for the betterment of their health and visiting the MNCH[2] in Ranta for advice and treatment,

positively added Sajida.

[1] A group formed by villagers who provide sessions on health education.

[2] Health centre established by Community World Service Asia

Sajida conducting a health session for the women in her village.
“The future is exciting. Let’s build a gender-balanced world.” #Balanceforbetter is the official campaign slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day. So our partners, community members and staff put their hands out and STRIKE THE #BalanceforBetter POSE to make International Women’s Day THEIR day – and are doing what they can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere.

Hurmi, an agent of change and gender equality in Umerkot

A resident of Haji Chanesar village in Umerkot, Hurmi is the Vice President of the village Steering Committee and a community leader since 2015.

When I started working as a community leader, I realized that the people in these rural communities are still living with an ultra-conservative mindset, where living by caste systems was a firm way of life. Our community group convinced a family of a 16-year-old girl of delaying her marriage for three years. We were able to do that after many discussions and informational meetings with the family as they were quite rigid with their decision and thought there was nothing wrong with a girl marrying at that age.

Hurmi delivers countless awareness-raising sessions that promote girls’ education and discourage early and child marriages.

Women easily discuss their problems with us. I am happy when I help others to live a better life, especially when daughters are treated well. Now that we have been given a chance to live a better life, we must walk forward together to build a progressive society instead of letting each other down. I wish to see a society where all girls are educated and there is equality in every field.

Saleemat shows her support for #BalanceforBetter

Saleemat, endorsing performing arts to promote human dignity

A recent launch of the Sphere Handbook 2018 through a theater performance in Umerkot motivated Saleemat, a 40-year-old resident of Mandhal Thakur village, to form a theater group, consisting of both men and women for awareness raising and learning sessions.

The villagers were very surprised to hear my idea. I encouraged the villagers in a different way. I told them that we have limited access to movies and dramas. We remember the learning from the Sphere Handbook theater performance as it was educative and entertaining at the same time so we could use a similar platform. Through these plays, we can sensitize rural communities on various topics and issues that they are unaware of and can also become a source of entertainment and enjoyment for the people of our village. This will help in supporting the rural communities to progress and bring a positive change in their mindsets. Today, our theater group has ten members, including four women and six men. We will be performing 22 plays in 14 remote villages of Umerkot to sensitize people on the disadvantages and consequences of early and child marriages, benefit of girls’ education and on the importance of women’s role in decision-making.

Saleemat also plans to promote the Sphere Handbook 2018 edition in each of her plays.

The people residing in remote communities will be aware of some guidelines derived from the Sphere Handbook 2018 that guides the CSOs[1] to use the minimum standards to protect the rights of all groups of society and ensuring their inclusiveness and protection. Moreover, they will know how their needs can be catered to, especially of women, children and most importantly of the differently abled members in the community who are otherwise ignored.

[1] Civil Society Organizations

The Mandhal Thakur Theater group engaged in a training for theater groups.

Currently our theatre group is called, Mandhal Thakur Theatre Group, but we are thinking of a more creative name now.

Members of Mandhal Thakur Theater group, Chandi and her husband, Mohan, calling for #BalanceforBetter
Marvan striking a pose for #BalanceforBetter

Marwan, handcrafting her way to empowerment and independence

Marwan was living a quiet life in Haji Chanesar village in Umerkot.

One day in early 2016, my husband encouraged me to join a vocational centre set up under a livelihoods project of Community World Service Asia. Though I joined the centre reluctantly, my experience there changed my life. I learnt more than I could ever imagine and in return of my dedication and hard work, I was selected as the Quality Assurance Supervisor at the centre. As an artisan, I created vibrant apparel products and home accessories and started to support my family through my earnings. Today, I am proudly working as a professional trainer for a provincial organization at a local vocational centre in Umerkot. I earn PKR 15,000 monthly (Approx. USD 107) and am supporting my husband in contributing for my children’s education and household expenses.

Marwan never thought she would be working as a professional and independent woman.

On this special day for women, I want to call out to all women in the rural communities (such as mine) to come out and work for yourself, support your family and contribute in the progress of the society. Do not be afraid, we are in this together.

There are many other women like Nimra, Sajida, Hurmi, Saleemat and Marwan, who are stepping up and working their way towards innovating for change. Today is a global celebration of women’s achievements and a call to action to accelerate gender parity around the world. Let us together celebrate every act, big or small, of women’s courage and determination!

The Perbhat theater group with the team of community World Service Asia.

Sphere Regional Focal Point, Community World Service Asia organized a theater performance on the Sphere standard #6.3 Food Assistance. Two theater performances were conducted in Ratan Bheel and Mandhal Thakur villages of Umerkot district in Sindh, Pakistan on December 6th! A total of 130 men and women participated in the community-level event.

The play highlighted some challenges faced during the targeting, distribution and delivery processes of food assistance. Perbhat, a local theater group and local partner of CWSA, performed an interactive theater play to highlight the food distribution methods or direct cash/voucher delivery mechanisms that are efficient, equitable, secure, safe, accessible and effective and are in line with the Sphere standards. The play emphasized on the guidelines derived from the Sphere Handbook 2018 that guides the CSOs to use the minimum standards to protect the rights of all groups of society to promote their dignity and ensure their inclusiveness and protection.

Voices of the Community:

Savetri from Ratan Bheel village in Umerkot shared, “The play promoted the importance and respect of differently able and children in the community. These two groups are mostly overlooked but today we learnt that the new Sphere Handbook promotes the inclusion of all groups including men, women, children, youth and the differently able members of communities.”

Khatoon from Ratan Bheel village in Umerkot quoted, “The needs of men, women, children, youth and differently able members of the communities were given importance. None of the group was disregarded as all are served equally during emergency crisis.”

Dhano, Ratan Bheel village, Umerkot. “We learnt an important message today stating that the food assistance provided by various organizations should be according to the needs of community members”

Kiran Bashir, Project Manager, Community World Service Asia. “Sphere Handbook 2018 promotes the inclusion of all women, youth, elders and differently able members of local communities. Every voice counts so let us raise our voices together and share the message of equal participation.”

Jai Ram Dhaas, Ratan Bheel village, Umerkot. “We learnt that the Sphere Handbook 2018 caters the needs of all women, children and most importantly of the differently able members in the community who are mostly gone unnoticed.”

Article written & developed by the CHS Alliance Communications Team

On 4th & 5th October, the CHS Alliance took part in the 20th Humanitarian Congress in Berlin. Focusing on topical issues such as migration and the safeguarding crisis, participants discussed how to best support crisis-affected people in a polarized political environment.

The Humanitarian Congress Berlin is a forum to analyze and discuss the theory and practice of humanitarian action. Each year, it brings together over 800 leading and emerging experts from around the globe to share experiences and knowledge in an international and multidisciplinary setting. This year the Congress discussed current political trends and their implications for the people at the core of humanitarian work.

Bonaventure Sokpoh, CHS Alliance’s Head of Policy, Advocacy & Learning, and Shama Mall, Deputy Regional Director of Programs and Organizational Development at Community World Service Asia (CWSA) and Board member of the CHS Alliance, both participated in a panel discussion focusing on humanitarian accountability. It was an opportunity for both of the members to advocate for the CHS and the Core Humanitarian Competency Framework.

Currently there are so many different quality and accountability standards available for the sector, and in many cases, they really changed the way we respond to emergencies, but the question remains whether we are doing enough in practice,” Shama said. Specifically, she would like to see changes in organisational behaviours and attitudes to ensure a more meaningful engagement at the community level: “staff should be able to demonstrate accountability in their day-to-day activities.

She believes that change must come from the leadership, who needs to demonstrate accountability on every level and that

staff will follow by example

. She also warned that, based on her experience, in certain cultures managers find it hard to demonstrate personal accountability or even hold their own team members to account, as people don’t want to get into confrontational situations.

Another problem is that managers also find it difficult to admit that they have gaps in their programming. I believe that the Core Humanitarian Competency Framework (CHCF) can help achieve these behavioural changes. This framework helps to look at the core competencies that are needed in an organisation to promote a more accountable culture.

Bonaventure promoted the Alliance’s flagship publication, the Humanitarian Accountability Report (HAR), which was recently launched and examines how change happens in the humanitarian sector.

We found that we have sufficient procedures, standards, code of conducts and alike; however, we are struggling with the application of these codes

he said, backing up Shama’s earlier comment.

Real change happens when commitments translate into practice on the ground.

Demonstrating the relevance and usefulness of the CHS Verification Scheme he argued that

once an organisation has been verified against the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS), we are able to see its strengths and weaknesses, where we need to put our efforts to make further improvements.

The aggregated verification data collected so far shows that the aid sector needs to make progress with regard to its application of Commitment 5 of the CHS (complaints mechanisms), as well as Commitment 4 (communication with communities) and Commitment 7 (learning from experience).

It’s good to have the data, but we also need to hear the voices of the affected people, and that’s the reason why we started to work together with Ground Truth Solutions in Chad.

The first results of the perception survey show discrepancies between the perception of aid workers and crisis-affected populations. For example, while aid workers feel confident in their targeting, respondents within the crisis-affected population were much less certain, with only 34% considering that those most in need are reached.