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.
PCAPES-Voters Education (TDEA/USAID)

Promoting Citizens' Active Participation in Electoral System

under Citizens Voice Project (TDEA/USAID Funded)

 

1. Background

The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees and provides a mechanism for free and fair elections, and requires that all eligible voters should be able to vote, without any fear or discrimination, for the candidates or parties of their choice. However, the previous experience of elections in Pakistan shows that voters’ turn out is often low due to a variety of reasons including, among others, discrimination against certain segments of society like women and disabled, fear of election-related violence, allegations of rigging and violations of electoral code of conduct that cause distrust in the whole electoral process, inability of political parties to educate and mobilize voters, and weaknesses in the election administration in terms of voters’ registration and other arrangements in a manner convenient to voters. Over the last few years, significant steps have been taken to improve the quality of voters’ lists, strengthening the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and providing a mechanism for an agreed caretaker government in order to minimize the possibility of any official interference in favor of one or the other party. This project targets Tehsil Lachi of District Kohat.   

 

 

 

 

2.  Project Objectives

The projects will be funded to support activities for achieving the following objectives:

 

  1. To strengthen citizens’ voice through, among others, public awareness and voters’ education initiatives, oversight of relevant public bodies and/or advocacy for reforming relevant laws, policies, practices or public attitudes for free, fair and peaceful elections.
  2. To strengthen public accountability in election related matters through, among others, raising questions, seeking explanations, developing requisite capacities and filing complaints at appropriate forums.

 

3. Activities

In order to achieve the above objectives, following activities will be implemented.

 

3.1. Campaign to Increase Voters’ Turnout:

Efforts will be made to increase voters’ turn out, especially in Union Councils where the turnout has traditionally been low. The related activities will include:

 

  • 5000 households approached through ‘door to door visits’ after carefully identifying segments of populations, who have a weak track record of voting;
  • 10 Corner meetings;
  • Dissemination of Information, Education and Communications (IEC) materials;
  • Use of social media, especially in urban areas, with focus on potential voters;
  • 20 stalls, for at least 50 days, for awareness and motivation of potential voters at appropriate places e.g. colleges, shopping areas, bus stands, fairs, madrassas, religious congregations, and cultural events.

 

3.2. Advocacy against Discrimination or Barriers to Voting:

The organization will implement oversight and advocacy initiatives to address concerns about discrimination or other barriers to free, fair and secret balloting. These barriers may, among others, include (a) restrictions on females’ voting, (b) establishment of polling stations at inconvenient locations (e.g. away from voting population); (c) unfair restrictions on persons with disability; (d) risks or threats of violence in or around the polling stations; and (e) lack of timely access to voters’ lists or information about polling stations. These concerns may be addressed by implementing the following activities:

 

  • Collection of relevant information in a timely manner;
  • At least 20 meetings with relevant local authorities to discuss the issues and demand corrective measures;
  • At least 300 letters/ applications to local and higher authorities in order to document the problems and demand corrective measures;
  • Facilitate related communities in directly engaging the relevant authorities and submitting their demands;
  • and 5 public events like seminars or press conferences.

 

3.3. Engaging Young Voters for Peaceful Elections:

The organization will identify, enroll and train at least 50 young leaders, who could work with young voters and sensitize or motivate them for their peaceful participation in the voting process. These young leaders will be facilitated to develop a plan of voluntary activities, which could support the cause of free, fair and peaceful elections. The voluntary activities may include further trainings of youth by young leaders, signing of non-violence pledge forms, and awareness work about the importance of peaceful elections. These young leaders may be issued certificates of acknowledgement to appreciate their contribution.

 

3.4. Advocating for Specific Commitments by Candidates and/ or Political Parties:

The organization will make efforts to seek specific and public commitments from the candidates about the following:

 

  • Increase of education budget to at least 4 percent of GDP.
  • Implementation of policies, which subsidize and support small farmers, and ensure low input prices and reasonable out prices for agricultural sector.
  • Enactment of right to free and compulsory education acts in the respective provinces, as per the letter and spirit of Article 25-A of the Constitution.
  • Reduction of indirect taxation, which affects the poor more, to less than 55 percent of total tax revenues.
  • Strengthening of tax collection system, especially in terms of collecting direct taxes in a fair, non-discriminatory and professional manner.
  • Enactment of strong right to information legislation at the Federal and provincial levels, which is consistent with the letter and spirit of Article 19-A of the Constitution and international/ regional best practices.
  • Enactment of strong anti-corruption legislation and its effective implementation at the Federal and provincial levels. 

 

To obtain the above commitments, the organization will undertake the following activities:

 

  • At least 100 letters to candidates or the respective Party leaders in the district as well at the provincial and national levels;
  • 1 candidate forum in which all the contestants in a constituency will be invited, and asked to sign commitment forms and make their commitments public; and
  • Encourage journalists and voters to seek similar commitments from the candidates or respective party leaders.

 

3.5. Post-Election Activities:

The organization will implement the following activities after the election in order to create awareness about the Election Dispute Resolution (EDR) mechanisms, as well as to advocate for appropriate reforms:

 

  • Personal meetings with at least 6 candidates of relevant national or provincial assembly seats, and listen to their complaints about the election. These meetings will be used to not only document the nature of complaints, but also to pick up ideas for reforms in the election process.
  • A seminar will be held in the related town/ tehsil to discuss the nature, types and scope of complaints; and inform participants about the EDR mechanisms, which could be used to seek resolution or redress. The participants will also discuss the weaknesses in the EDR mechanisms, and debate ideas for reforms in related practices, policies or laws. Up to 50 participants will include, among others, candidates or their nominees, office holders of political parties, civil society activists and young leaders.
  • The organization will document the ideas for reforms in the existing EDR mechanisms, and engage local legislators and relevant officials to demand reforms. For the purpose, the project staff will hold at least 4 meetings with concerned legislators and officials in the town or district; besides writing 50 letters to relevant authorities (e.g. legislators, PM, Chief Election Commissioner, etc.) at the Federal level. The project staff will also encourage community leaders and other stakeholders to write to senior officials in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and legislators to demand specific reforms.
  • To engage local media to explain the need of reforms in the existing EDR mechanisms including through personal meetings at least 2 press releases, and one press conference.

 

4. Expected Results

 

The following outputs/ results will be delivered:

 

  • Up to 5,000 households (i.e. about 20,000 voters) contacted and encouraged to vote through ‘door to door’ visits;
  • 500 voters directly engaged through corner meetings;
  • At least 30,000 voters benefited through the dissemination of IEC materials;
  • Around 5,000 voters engaged through social media;
  • Over 10,000 persons engaged through stalls at 20 locations for a total of 50

days (i.e. on average 2 ½ days at each location);

  • Over 300 letters written to demand end to discrimination or barriers to voting;
  • Over 120 active citizens, politicians and officials engaged through 5 public events on matters related to discrimination and barriers to voting;
  • 50 young leaders trained through 2 training workshops on free, fair and peaceful voting;
  • Commitments made by candidates or respective party leaders as a result of over 100 letters, 1 candidates forum and demands by media/ voters;
  • Report on the meetings with at least 6 candidates including their complaints and suggestions for reforming the electoral process;
  • Up to 50 persons engaged and informed through a seminar about the EDR mechanisms, and to debate and demand specific reforms;
  • 4 meetings with relevant authorities (e.g. election officials, legislators, etc.) to demand reforms for more efficient EDR mechanism;
  • 50 letters written to legislators and election officers in Islamabad to demand reforms; and
  • Local media engaged through personal meetings, 2 press releases and a press conference.

 

  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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