Our work in Pakistan is seeing that the needs of the most marginalised in society – poor, disabled, women and young people – are met. And by engaging the youth as peace-builders, young people are paving the way for a more cohesive and resilient Pakistan in the future.
VSO-supported Panah women’s shelter home has to date given refuge to almost 3,000 women
Last year, we consulted 139 people to discover Pakistan's most pressing educational needs and challenges.
In 2017/18, 127 community and youth volunteers registered with Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122
Young people in Pakistan face a number of challenges – from individual and social to institutional and political. Around 52% of young people are not part of the labour force and those who are face significant difficulties in finding work.
Of this youth labour force, the unemployment rate is 22% – significantly higher than the adult unemployment rate in Pakistan.
The Youth Employability Network
VSO wants the marginalised youth of Pakistan to be able to choose decent employment and viable enterprises that allow them to live fulfilled and dignified lives.
The Youth Employability Network (YEN) is working with young people from every background, but with a special focus on unskilled/uneducated and educated/unskilled youth, as these groups are at higher risk of exposure to drugs or violent extremism.
Since its formation, YEN helped has young people to register their Computerized National Identity Card, gaining them access to a range of services including voting rights, bank accounts and registration with other departments.
The network has also helped people with disabilities to get special transport cards and discounted transport fares in Multan. By making mobility affordable, people with disabilities are better able to participate socially and professionally in their communities.
- 39 youth volunteers recruited and trained to enable them to establish a Youth Employability Network (YEN)
- 22 youth job seekers were enabled to get jobs in private sector by the network.
- YEN members identified 250 unemployed youth and have facilitated interest free loans for 5 youth for business start-ups.
- 178 young people helped to register their Computerized National Identity Card
- 150 people with disabilities helped to get special transport cards and a 50% discount in transport fares
Pakistan is the eighth most severely affected country in terms of climate variability. For developing countries such as Pakistan, where large swathes of the population live in poverty, periodic shocks are a serious obstacle to social and economic advancement for the most vulnerable.
Strong communities are better able to weather these shocks. Community resilience and social cohesion are important components for ensuring that people are able to live and thrive, even in the face of shocks, disasters and emergencies – both natural and manmade.
Engaging young people in peace building
Pakistan has a large youth population – 64% of Pakistanis are under 29. Engaging this group of people has a powerful impact on society as a whole, and empowering young people as peace-builders promotes social cohesion and resilience now and in the future.
The initiative will engage youth to build resilience to shocks and stressors – as disputes and issues arising from poor resilience are source of disintegration in community, promoting violence and affecting the cohesion of wider society.
Rescue 1122 is a dedicated department that deals with natural and man-made disasters, emergencies and building community resilience to stresses and shocks.
In the last year, VSO in partnership with Rescue 1122 equipped youth and community volunteers with the right tools to develop action plans in the communities that are prone to stresses and shocks.
- 127 community and youth volunteers have been registered with Rescue 1122 as part of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- VSO has trained 36 staff of five CSOs and one government department on VSO core approaches, including resilience.
- Knowledge cascading means eight national volunteers, 36 community youth facilitators and 376 community volunteers and students have been trained.
In Pakistan, nearly one in three married women aged 15-49 reports experiencing physical violence at the hands of their husbands, according to a UN report.
Most crimes of this nature go unreported, though. There’s a reluctance to speak to the police, and many women have accepted that domestic violence is inevitable, suffering in silence. VSO is building the capacity of the Pakistan Forum for Democratic Policing (PFDP), and working with police, policy-makers and advocates to help make Pakistan a safer place to be a woman.
Preventing gender-based violence through democratic policing
The Pakistan Forum for Democratic Policing (PFDP) is a body of more than 100 civil society organisations striving for police reform to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.
VSO is building the capacity of the PFDP, and working with police, policy-makers and advocates to help make Pakistan a safer place to be a woman.
Over 800 police officials were engaged during community police meetings, seminars, press conferences, and theatre performances.
As a result of VSO’s efforts Inspector General of Police in Sindh showed commitment to increase number of women in police and to extend support to CSOs in working against gender-based violence.
Inspector General of Police for Islamabad is now committed to establishing an anti-violence against women and children centre in Islamabad which will provide legal and medical facilities to survivors of violence under one roof.
Panah, meaning refuge, is a shelter home and member of the PFDP - which has, to date, given refuge to almost 3,000 women – is aiming to improve women’s access to justice across Pakistan.
The shelter allows women fleeing violence to stay for free with their children. It offers a range of activities targeted at improving wellbeing and self-confidence, such as yoga and art therapy, as well as providing access to emotional, social and psychiatric support.
Panah shelter is a shining example of what can be done, not just in Karachi but anywhere in the world, when you’ve got the will.
Baroness Burt, British politician and VSO parliamentary volunteer
Recent results in our work to tackle gender-based violence include:
- Over 800 police officials engaged during community police meetings, seminars, press conferences, and theatre performances.
- Inspector General of Police for Sindh province has committed to increase the number of women police officers and to extend support to CSOs in working against gender-based violence.
- Inspector General Police committed to establish an anti-violence against women and children centre in Islamabad which will provide legal and medical facilities to survivors of violence under one roof.
- Federal Minister of Interior has called on the PFDP to meet and discuss a way forward for police reforms in Pakistan
- 9,191 primary actors directly reached, and 472,000 people indirectly, mostly through media engagements across Pakistan focused on raising public awareness on gender-based violence.
Literacy rates are falling in Pakistan, with just 58% literacy against a target of 88%, and a huge gulf between men (70%) and women (47%). School drop-out rates increase sharply around the transition to secondary school.
Urgent improvements are needed in education and training, in order to ensure a generation of children and young people stand a chance of gaining the skills and competencies to progress in the labour market and society as a whole.
VSO Pakistan is improving primary education through better education management, and strengthening the relevance and quality of vocational training. Our current work includes placing volunteer technical experts to support vocational training curriculum development.
We’ve consulted a diverse range of education stakeholders to identify the needs and challenges of education in Pakistan. Last year, 139 people were engaged through a series of six consultations in the Punjab province (Central, Northern and Southern Punjab region).
A wide variety of people were consulted to establish a clear picture of the country’s educational needs at every level of society – from policy-makers to parents to teachers. Using the insight we’ve gained, we want to enhance the quality of education with a reach to 8,000 schools in Punjab.
Volunteering for Development programme
The Volunteering for Development programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) works to improve quality and access to health and education services as well as livelihood opportunities for the most poor and vulnerable.
The grant recognises VSO's extensive experience of putting volunteers in the right places to tackle poverty and inequality.
Mapping progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
In collaboration with national NGO partner, AwazCDS, VSO Pakistan conducted mapping of the status of sustainable development goals (SDGs) implementation in the country in March 2018. Find out more about how we're spreading the word on the importance of the SDGs in Pakistan, taking community voices to global decision makers.
- Rozan (CSO)
- Women Rights Association (CSO)
- Government of Punjab (Province)
- Rescue 1122 (Provincial Government)
We look forward to engaging with partners who have an established track record working within health, education and livelihoods, and funders who share our belief in creating positive social change with volunteering.
Office: Sara Tower, MPCHS, E-11/3, Islamabad, Pakistan
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From the blog:
Taking voices from communities to global decision makersWe hear from VSO Pakistan Country Director Hashim Bilal, on how communities in his country are making their voices heard when it comes to progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
This Pakistan shelter is helping women escape violence and rebuild their livesIn Pakistan, nearly one in three married women aged 15-49 reports experiencing physical violence at the hands of their husbands. Panah shelter in Karachi, Pakistan, is offering hope to these women facing domestic abuse, giving not just refuge but rehabilitation.