PPAF Takes SDGs to the Field

PPAF Takes SDGs to the Field in Balochistan

Pic : Balochistan Taking SDGs to the Field PR v1

The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund conducted the last provincial workshop on, ‘Taking SDGs to the Field’, in Quetta. The objective of the workshop was to emphasize the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 5 around achieving gender equality and empowering all women. This platform allowed participants to discuss ways PPAF and its POs could take forward Sustainable Development Goals to link with the work of field staff comprising social organizers and community workers in order reach an agreement with the field staff to take forward these commitments on inclusion and equity. Field staff and senior management from partner organizations in Balochistan implementing PPAF Program for Poverty Reduction funded by the Italian Development Cooperation, Government of Italy participated in the workshop.

Mr. Meer Mohammed Tareen, Legal Advisor to the speaker of the provincial assembly was the representative from the Balochistan Government and the keynote speaker. Mr. Tareen applauded PPAF for creating a platform to discuss the low gender indicators and how to move forward. Mr. Tareen noted that Balochistan is the first province to have a female speaker in a provincial assembly. Furthermore, since Mrs. Raheela Durrani has assumed responsibility as the speaker, an active dialogue regarding gender empowerment has been present within the assembly. Mr. Tareen also said that Balochistan was desperate for funding to develop infrastructure, strengthen education programs and improve accessibility to quality health workers and facilities. The Federal Budget distributes funds according to population, though the province is less populated than others, it has a land mass that needs to be developed. Mr. Tareen expressed that with the development of infrastructure projects, social mobilization and social awareness, the women of Balochistan will be better empowered. Therefore PPAF and its partners should increase social mobilization which will lead to social awareness of basic rights at the grassroots thus building a social pressure leading to accountability of the government officials and better implementation of government strategies and policies. Finally, Mr. Tareen said that the civil society needs to represent women’s issues, and in order to do that, women need to voice their concerns and challenges. Mr. Tareen interacted with PPAF’s Partner Organizations in a question and answer session which resulted in discourse regarding teacher training, lack of clean drinking water and access to maternity services.

The panelist speaker was Mr. Nadir Gul of the Balochistan Rural Support Program. Mr. Gul highlighted that natural resource degradation has a direct correlation with the social and economic development of communities which has hampered attainment of the MDG. He mentioned that a collaboration of economic, environment and social integration will be a more effective strategy to improve policies that improve gender empowerment. In addition, Mr. Gul stressed that women are the biggest victims of the water crisis in Balochistan. The expectation from society and the home is for women to gather water for the household, therefore resulting in girls being marked absent from schools. He stressed that social mobilization is an effective tool to help governance. He concluded by stating that female economic independence leads to overall empowerment of women and enhances their ability to lead in society and be involved in decision making processes at home.

The second panelist speaker Mr. Qaiser Jamali, provincial coordinator, UNESCO, quoted ex Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch who outlined that there were 600 ghost schools with 200,000 ghost students. In order to placate this, the civil society and Government need to work together to target teacher accountability. He continued to emphasize that out of 12,500 schools in the Province, only 3400 cater to girls. Therefore, he proposed that a joint strategy needed be developed and implemented that entailed: 1) decentralizing powers to the district level, 2) create a merit based system for teacher selection, and 3) a monitoring system that would ensure the operation and attendance of teachers and students. Mr. Jamali concluded by stating that for the province of Balochistan SDG 16 (climate change and environment) also needed to be addressed as several districts are held back due to natural disasters and women fall victim to these shortfalls.

Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund is playing a leading role to ensure equity, inclusion and women’s participation within the organization and amongst the partner organizations. PPAF is committed to bringing empowerment and improving representation of women, poor, youth, minorities, transsexual, migrants, and highly vulnerable individuals or with special needs, insecure and/or any other marginalized community through a transformative framework.

As part of its Gender Action Plan 2015, PPAF held the first national level retreat of social mobilizers/organizers, and credit officers of its POs, following which provincial workshops are being conducted across Pakistan. The national level retreat was a means to learn about the issues and difficulties of social mobilizers and credit officers, particularly women mobilizers and credit officers as they go about their work organizing, communicating, raising awareness, implementing work, issuing loans, and monitoring and recovering loans in the face of all adversities be it culture, social norms and values, weather, topography, geographic remoteness, or political instability.

Social mobilizers are a bridge between PPAF and the communities and bring about a sustainable change in terms of access to resources, behaviour as well as economic condition. However, bringing about this transformation is not easy, especially, for the women social mobilizers.