Women Facilitation Center provided more than 100 vulnerable women access to justice. Balochistan Session Court Bar Room renovated under USAID funded sub grant of Gender Equity Program.
Sub Grant-30 Under Gender Equity Program (AF/USAID)

"Supporting Women To Join Law Enforcement & Judicial Systems"

 

Summary

 

Duration:       August 2011-August 2012

Budget:          PKRs. 5.945 Million (US$ 69,940)

Donor:           USAID through Gender Equity Program of Aurat Foundation in collaboration with The Asia Foundation

Beneficiaries:  Young Women Lawyers & Law Graduates

                     Male Lawyers & Law Firms

                     Women Crisis Centers

                     Dar-ul-Aman (Shelter Home)

                     Women Reporting Center, Police Department

                     Civil Society Organizations

 

Project Description

 

Women in Balochistan are confronted with numerous complex issues with very limited access to justice at apex. Women remain deprived of its rights including right to immediate justice. In tribal society of Balochistan with dominant feudal and religious influences, women’s protection and access to justice as per women specific laws and international commitments seems to be dream as there is less buying of these mechanisms in the rural tribal and feudal setup. The traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution are thought and adapted as more appropriate and accessible for seeking justice. However, the sensitivity towards women’s rights/specific needs and women’s participation as mediator and/or decision maker in these traditional mechanisms remains a key lacking that makes the sanctity of justice through these mechanisms visibly questionable with regards to the gender sensitive and women-centered judgments.

 

Factors contributing to the aforementioned problems of women in Balochistan, inter alia, include delayed justice through judicial setup and lack of women as lawyers (the facilitator for justice) in the judicial system. In Balochistan, out of 30 districts, women practice law as profession only in the provincial capital Quetta, whereas, in rest of the provinces, women don’t exist as lawyers in judicial system due to tribal and feudal culture. Therefore, their absence prevent justice-seeking women to contact judicial system as they are not allowed to interact with males due to social and tribal cultural norms. Thus the only option for justice remains is the conventional traditional alternate mechanisms. On the other hand, women’s mobility to courts is also not thought appropriate in esp. in the rural setup, which makes it more difficult for a common woman to approach judiciary to seek justice.

 

Women who join the Law as profession leave the due to various hardships including financial constraints and no support for profession development. Due to the same reason, number of women as lawyers in comparison with men remains very low despite the fact that every year a reasonable number of females pass out from Law Colleges. But due to non-conducive environment in the courts and chambers, they refrain from joining the profession.

 

On the other hand, the women protection mechanisms are not sufficient in the province. A province with more than 4 million women population has only three Women Crisis Centers in three districts, One Dar-ul-Aman and only one Women Reporting Centers. Moreover, these mechanisms also lack capacities to meet the needs of women protection in their local contexts.

 

In order to address the issues elucidated above, Gender Equity Program of Aurat Foundation (in collaboration with The Asia Foundation) supported by the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) introduced a Sub Grant (SG-30) “Supporting Women to Join Law Enforcement & Judicial System”. The SG-30 strived to increase women’s participation in judicial systems as lawyers and to strengthen women protection mechanisms in Balochistan. Change thru Empowerment (CTE) implemented the SG-30 in Balochistan.

 

Expected Outcome

 

Judicial system is more responsive towards women’s issues and providing justice to women.

 

Geographic Scope & Beneficiaries

 

The project was implemented in Balochistan covering lawyers belonging to all ethnic groups and six administrative divisions i.e. Quetta, Zhob, Kalat, Sibi, Naseerabad and Makran. Details of Beneficiaries is as under:

S. No.

Target Group

Male

Female

Total

1

Female Law Graduates & Young Female Lawyers

 

35

32

2

Male Lawyers

127

 

127

3

Women Crisis Centers

2

6

8

4

Dar-ul-Aman Balochistan

 

2

2

5

Women Reporting Centers

 

4

4

6

Lawyer Firms/Chambers

17

 

17

7

Civil Society/Citizens

650

350

1,000

 

Grand Total

 

1,190

 

Key Interventions/Activities

 

1.    Orientation Meeting for Project Team

2.    Meetings of Project Steering Committee

3.    Meetings of Legal Support Groups

4.    Placement of Internees with Law Firms

5.    Pre & Post Internship Learning Assessment Surveys

6.    Provincial Lawyers’ Forum

7.    National Consultative Workshop on Legal Literacy Curriculum

8.    Participation in National Lawyers’ Forum

9.    Development of Legal Literacy Curriculum

10.  Capacity Building of Lawyers on Legal Literacy Curriculum

11.  Institutional Strengthening of Women Protection Mechanisms

12.  Printing of IEC Material

 

Progress Glimpses

S #

Activity Title

Target

Achieved

% Achievement

1

Orientation Meeting

1

1

100%

2

Meetings of Project Steering Committee

12

10

83%

3

Meetings of Legal Support Groups

18

14

77%

4

Placement of Internees with Law Firms

32 Interns

9 Months

32 Interns

9 Months

100%

100%

5

Pre & Post Internship Learning Assessment Surveys

2

2

100%

6

Provincial Lawyers’ Forum

1 Forum

1 Forum

100%

7

National Consultative Workshop on Legal Literacy Curriculum

1 Workshop

1 Workshop

100%

8

Participation in National Lawyers’ Forum

22 Interns & staff

22

100%

9

Development of Legal Literacy Curriculum

1 Curriculum

1 Curriculum

100%

10

Capacity Building of Lawyers on Legal Literacy Curriculum

5 Workshops

 

5 Workshops

 

100%

 

140 Lawyers

160 Lawyers

115%

11

Institutional Strengthening of Women Protection Mechanisms

1 Training Workshop

1 Training Workshop

100%

13

Printing of IEC Material

1000 copies of Brochure

1000 Copies

100%

1000 Copies of Poster

1000 Copies

 

100%

 

180 Modules for Training

180 Copies

100%

 

 


Innovation

 

SG-30 was overall an innovative project that introduced the concept of paid apprenticeship for young female lawyers first time in Balochistan. Similarly, the project focused for the first time lawyers for their capacity building at a very large scale through an effective Legal Literacy Curriculum. Exposure of the internee lawyers at provincial and national levels had never been undertaken before the project in Balochistan.  Thus it was all together an innovative approach adapted to address women’s access to justice and women’s protection related issues.

 

Outputs & Results

 

The project also resulted in institution building for women lawyers. Women Lawyers’ Association (WLA) has been formed and is the first ever institution of and for the women lawyers of Balochistan. This is one of the most sustainable and impact oriented output of the project.

 

Sustainability

 

To ensure the sustainability of the project’s main intervention i.e. paid internship for young female lawyers, CTE has been successful for seek more resources. An international support organization is likely to fund a project in 2013 for similar internship as well as strengthening of WLA. Legal Literacy Curriculum will be adapted for the professional development of the internees in consultation with GEP. This effort fulfills the commitment of CTE for sustainability of the project made the time of proposal.

 

CTE will also continue engagement with Women Crisis Centers, Dar-ul-Aman and Women Reporting Centers in order to facilitate them in coordination and synergizing their institutional efforts for women’s support and protection.

 

Key Successes & Way Forward

 

1     Increased Presence of Women in Judicial System as Advocates

 

It was the first time that young women advocates were focused in Balochistan for supporting and encouraging them to become part of judicial system as lawyers. Every year, a significant number of women graduate in law but a negligible number joins the law. And, those who join and enroll as advocate, discontinue practicing within a year or two due to financial hardships (as they don’t get reasonable financial support from the law firms) and non-conducive environment of the law chambers. The women advocates take much longer to acquire their professional skills due not regularly attending chambers.

 

The Sub Grant-30 served many purposes with regards to women’s presence as advocate. The first is that SG-30 has given a successful model for increasing women’s existence as lawyers through internship. The internship has encouraged many women to regularly attend the chambers who were earlier either not or rarely attending the chambers. The nominal financial support has enable the internee advocates regularly attend the chambers.

 

Secondly, out of 17 chambers engaged in SG-30 for internship, in more than 50% there were no women advocates earlier. But now they have 1-3 women advocates regularly attending the chambers.

 

Thirdly, Balochistan Bar Association (actively onboard in all project activities) has furthered its support for women to join and sustain as lawyers in response to SG-30 internship.

 

2     Avenues for Policy Reforms

 

The Provincial Lawyers’ Forum for young women lawyers, held in January 2012, was very innovative in its natures. It was again the first time that other than Bar Councils/Associations, a project undertook such initiative. The forum, among others, opened new avenues for policy reforms to increase women participation in judicial system. It was unanimously recommended by the forum that newly joining lawyers should be paid an allowance per month for an initial one and a half year to enable them sustain in the profession as being paid to the MBBS doctors during the term of their House Job. The internship program for young women lawyers is now being taken as model for this purpose.

 

The Project Steering Committee on SG-30 in its last meeting has decided to form a working group for meeting and lobbying with the parliamentarians to pass a resolution for the said allowance. This would pave the way for policy reforms which had never been initiated before.

 

3     Institutional Building

Institution building for support of young female lawyers is another significant impact of the project. The first Women Lawyers Association (WLA) in Balochistan has been formed. The WLA will be pave the way for mainstreaming women in the profession of law and would also provide an umbrella to the existing lawyers to struggle for their rights and professional development.

 

WLA is the initial step towards inclusion of women in lawyers’ institutions, not merely as a voter for Bar Councils/Associations’ elections, but also for uplifting their status in the profession. The WLA is very committed towards assistance in ending GBV in the province. The members of WLA will be a volunteer panel of advocates that will assist the WPMs in legal aid as well as will work at community level for legal counseling.

  Revival of My Professional Career As Lawyer
 
I, Farzana Khilji, joined law as profession in Balochistan a province with dominant tribal and fuedal norms and traditions. Balochistan is a province where women are still struggling for their improved and acknowleged status. On the other hand, women's existance in the profession of law is yet a big challenge since institutional support is not available...
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