Thursday, November 9, 2017
لیکن جناب عالی، ہم عورتوں کی عملی زندگیوں میں تو صورتحال اس سے یکسر مختلف ہے، اسی دیر میں جب عورتیں میلوں فاصلے پر سر پرگھر کی تمام ضروریات کے لئے پانی لاتی ہیں، جب گاؤں میں عورت مرد ڈاکٹر سے علاج کراتی ہے اور حتیٰ کہ پیدایشی عمل کے کیسسز کے لئے گاؤں کا مرد ڈسپنسر گھر آتا ہے تو کوئی بات نہیں، جب لڑکی میلوں پیدل سکول جاتی ہے کیونکہ یا تو والدین گاڑی کا خرچہ نہیں اٹھا سکتے یا عورتوں کے لئے مخصوص پبلک ٹرانسپورٹ موجود ہی نہیں جیسے کہ شہروں میں ہوتا ہے، اس دوران کسی مرد یا سیاسی رہنما کو نہ پردے کا خیال آتا ہے اور نہ حیا کا.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Meet Shad Begum who, despite being born and raised in a conservative area, didn’t back down from availing education, fighting the societal norms and championing women rights in her area – Swat. Her father and later her husband became her only support who didn’t let her follow the fate other girls of that area are destined to, rather they encouraged her to avail education- no matter how much people around bashed them for supporting Shad Begum in her 'nonconforming' endeavors.
Deeply impacted by the social inequalities and inspired by her father’s social work in her early age, Shad Begum opened her non-profit organization, Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation Official, to advance the economic and political empowerment of women and marginalized communities.
“We women need to understand our own worth, if we, ourselves, would underestimate our strength, potential, and self-respect - no one is ever going to accept us or give us space. We need to stand up for our rights, instead of waiting for somebody else to come and help us.”
In recognition of her untiring struggle for the economic and political empowerment of women and girls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, she was awarded the “International Woman of Courage Award” in 2012 by the U.S. Department of State. Shad Begum is an Ashoka, Acumen, and Regan Fascell Fellow at National Endowment for Democracy.
“The society we live in, men are the decision makers; until and unless we do not engage, sensitize and motivate men - not only to stop but also to stand against all forms of harassment/violence against women - we cannot eradicate violence against women."
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Ms. Shad Begum's profile interview with the English Newspaper "Daily Times", Published on, August 3rd, 2017.
Tell us about your venture into the field of social work. How did it begin for you?
In 1994, I was in grade 8 and I started attending meetings organized by the Idara-e-Khidmat-e-Khalq Talash (IKKT) – the organization for public service. IKKT was formed in 1970 as a welfare organization by my late uncle Dr. Dost Muhammad. It was registered with the government in 1979. My uncle, also my father-in-law, was educated and had a public service spirit. Unfortunately, he died in a road accident in 1987. My father had to carry forward his social work after his premature death. The role of IKKT was to bridge the gap between common and disadvantaged people and government departments. Initially, IKKT was approached by the men of that area for receiving services from government departments, but later women in the area started pouring in. However, IKKT had no female staff to communicate with the women. Cultural barriers prevented women from approaching IKKT, which was run by men only. To address this problem, my father and other members of IKKT engaged their wives, sisters, and daughters to enable local women to communicate with men and redress their problems. I think it was leading by an example to engage women directly in social welfare and paved the way for other women to get involved in public service. I got involved in the IKKT activities as a volunteer. My business experience and co-education background enabled me to confidently communicate with men, including men that were my senior. My mother also worked as a volunteer, but I was more active than all the other female volunteers. With the passage of time, the number of other active women increased to almost 20, and we felt the need to have our own organization. We registered Anjuman Behbood-e-Khawateen Talash (ABKT) in 1994. We opened an office of ABKT on the first floor of our Hujra, and I worked as the general secretary of ABKT, which was later, renamed the Association for Behaviour & Knowledge Transformation. With the passage of time, ABKT has been growing and expanding its outreach from villages to districts, districts to divisions and division to provinces. We have been actively working in the social, economic and political empowerment of marginalized communities especially women and youth in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We have successfully completed a large number of projects and have served thousands of individuals during our interventions. Alongside the development interventions, our organization has been actively involved in providing humanitarian assistance both to man-made and natural disasters affected communities.
Hailing from Lower Dir, was it hard for a woman to be working and being actively involved in philanthropy? What challenges did you have to face initially and how did you overcome them?
It is very hard for women in our culture to work in any sector or field, as our society is still not very supportive and conducive to working women. We have still many stereotypes, like women should not work do social work, or stand up for human rights etc. Our society may accept a woman to become a teacher or a doctor but not a professional social worker or a leader. Having said that, yes, it was very hard for me to become a social worker and to get involved in philanthropy. People have been propagating negatively about me to prove me unacceptable and wrong. They have been targeting my family for being supportive towards me. I don’t think that we shouldn’t listen to criticism as listening to criticism helps us analyze ourselves. Though I have been listening to criticism, which wasn’t based on positivity, it was more based on that being a woman I should not ask for equality and empowerment, instead, I should keep quiet and should not resist. I have been critical to all those who stood against women’s rights and empowerment. Initially, there was more resistance but with the passage of time because of the work I have been doing for my communities, the acceptance of my work and me has been increasing. People from different areas now invite me to work with them and to help them in resolving their issues. The change that makes me happy is that now people are approaching me to help their women in resolving their various issues.
Your social work campaigning must take you far and wide throughout Pakistan. What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had in your career?
Yes, my work has been giving me various opportunities to travel, interact and work with different communities not only within Pakistan but around 18 countries all over the world. I have many memorable experiences throughout my career. However, I must say that I have been witnessing resistance, potentials, and courage among women and youth throughout my journey in every corner of Pakistan. The only thing we need both individually and collectively is that we need to support each other and must recognize and honor all those people who stood for helping and empowering others.
What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you?
My vision for Pakistan is an equal, democratic, prosperous and peaceful society that guarantees equal opportunities for all citizens of Pakistan.
How supportive and encouraging has your family been throughout all your ventures?
Since the beginning, my immediate family has been very supportive. My father, brothers, and husband have been giving me the courage and strength to continue my struggle. They have always been criticised for being supportive towards me as our society generally do not like men giving freedom and equality to women. They like men who are controlling towards women. My family has always stood by me and supported me in my views. I am aware of the fact that there are many women and girls still struggling for their empowerment where they may not necessarily have the support from their families. I believe families must support their girls to explore their full potentials because family support is instrumental for anyone.
Has the government been instrumental in aiding your social work in any way?
We have been working for the last 20 years in remote, underdeveloped and conflict-affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the social, economic and political empowerment of local communities with a special focus on women, youth, and children. Our working approach is based on collaboration and partnership with the relevant stakeholders especially government institutions. We have successfully implemented and completed various projects in collaboration with different local and provincial government institutions in various sectors ie health, education, municipal services, drinking water supply, community infrastructure, humanitarian assistance, agriculture, livestock, elected councilors’ capacity building, voter registration, awareness about CNICs etc. Government support has been very instrumental in almost every situation for us, and this is why we have been engaged with government institutions at various levels. Because we do believe that government institutions are the ones who could help us in making the projects sustainable and more successful for the best interest of local communities.
You are the first university-educated female in your family. How important a role does education play in the field of social work?
Education is important in almost every aspect of life. In my social work career, of course, my education has been playing a vital role. I believe that education helps us widen our mental horizons to learn and replicate skills and knowledge. My thrust of further education has been always alive and I have the affirm determination to opt for a Ph.D. in the near future.
What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far?
Being a Pashtun woman, I have been challenging various stereotypes since the age of 19 when I started my career as a social worker. Though due to the deep-rooted patriarchy, it is still very critical for a woman to raise her voice and fight for her rights and equality, my struggle has been instrumental for voicing women’s and girls’ rights in our region. When I was given an international award in 2012 for my struggle for women’s political rights, I was happy for putting forward a milestone for women and girls in my country and giving the message about never giving up and believing in one’s self.
What motivates you to excel, no matter what?
I believe that I have had a very challenging life because of the nature of my work. Struggling for equality and women empowerment is yet crucial despite living in the 21st century. However, confronting challenges have made me more resistant and motivated to continue my struggle. I believe that there are challenges at every step you take, in every sector you choose to work. This doesn’t make any difference. What makes the difference is how you choose to respond to those challenges; either give up or explore your potentials and find your path towards achieving your goals. I have always strongly believed in myself and have always thought that I can do it.
We, at Daily Times, consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours?
Pakistan is always very fertile for leadership, although most of our leaders do not find recognition for being heroes or heroines. We as a nation must always respect and honor them. My heroes include my father Dr. Noor Muhammad, Quid-e-Azam, Bacha Khan, Ghani Khan, Abdul Satar Edhi and Allama Iqbal. My heroines are Malala Yousafzai, Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jahangir, Maryam Bibi and Rakhshanda Naz.
Social worker Shad Begum has always been ambitious and driven even as a child. She grew up in a province where working women were criticised and not supported at all. However, she broke the norms and became what she sought to be – an award-winning female social worker from KP.
A ROLE MODEL FOR ALL
Shad Begum is now hailed a hero in her home country. She is the voice and a true representative of suppressed girls and women and a strong advocate of their rights.
TOP OF HER GAME
Ignoring all the criticisms that came her way and the struggles she had to undertake, Shad only believed in herself and so today, she is the executive director of the Association for Behaviour & Knowledge Transformation, a dream she had as a child.
Shad has been recognized internationally for her social work in KP. She has been the prestigious Ashoka Fellow, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at NED as well as the Acumen Pakistan Fellow. Former US First Lady Michelle Obama and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton awarded her with the International Women of Courage Award in 2012.
Published in Daily Times, August 3rd, 2017. https://dailytimes.com.pk/122646/shad-begum/
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
By Shad Begum
The Peshawar High Court’s judgment to declare the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) judgment of June 2, 2015 as null and void in the case of PK 95 Dir Lower has compelled the civil society networks and women rights activist to contest PHC judgment in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The ECP took suo moto action after the by-election in PK-95, in which the JI candidate had won the election.
The PHC judgement says that the learned judges were not happy with the situation but there is no such law to compel voters for voting. The question was not to compel the voters for voting but the entire reasoning of the ECP judgement was that since the local JIRGA, including the contesting candidates, had reached a verbal agreement to limit the elections to men only, hence it was against the constitutional guarantees and the spirit of the electoral laws.
It is also worth noting that while the case was being heard in the ECP, when there was a favorable environment for the women voters, they came out to vote on May 30, 2015 in the local government elections. Even more significant are the results of PK-93 Dir Upper in which the women of Dir came out to vote in the by-elections in September 2015. It was unprecedented to see women voters in Dir Upper by-elections. Whether in the local government elections or in the case of PK-93 Dir Upper, the political parties and their candidates knew that there is a strong reaction from the ECP on barring women voters, and that the ECP will take action against the winning candidates, just as in the case of JI’s candidate in PK-95, if women were barred from voting.
The PHC judgment will set a precedent and encourage those who disenfranchise women in the name of culture. The ECP judgment was a strong message to those violating women’s right to vote but it seems that the struggle of empowering women through the exercise of their votes is not yet finished.
The Parliamentary Committee on electoral reforms has yet to come up with the recommendations and the government of Nawaz Sharif has not been able to legislate on the recommendations of the electoral reforms committee. The government of Nawaz Sharif and his brother’s in the Punjab have recently taking steps that is presenting a soft image of Pakistan in the international community. The legislation of Women Protection Act by the Punjab Assembly and the death sentence to Mumtaz Qadri are some examples in this regard. The Nawaz Sharif government is also working on policy for women empowerment but certain judgements that disenfranchise women only because of the absence of adequate laws are going to reflect on the legislative performance of the Nawaz Sharif government. We hope that the government will take immediate steps to enact the law on minimum voting by women in a constituency as a requirement for the returning candidates to be declared successful.
 Ms. Shad Begum, belonging to Dir Lower district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is a woman social entrepreneur working for the economic, political and social empowerment of women since 1994. She is the founder member and Executive Director Association for Behaviour & knowledge Transformation (ABKT), an Ashoka Fellow, and in recognition of her extraordinary work for the rights of women, she has been awarded several national and international awards, including the International Woman of Courage Award by the US State Department. She has remained a district councilor in Dir Lower during 2001-2005, after winning the election on a general seat as an independent candidate. She is on the Advisory Boards of several prestigious international women organisations and is also a member of the UN Strategic Guidance Group of the N-Peace Network, a global network of women peacemakers around the world. Currently, Shad is Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) United State.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
December 09, 2015
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm
ABOUT THE EVENT
The Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) of Pakistan, which form part of the country’s northern border with Afghanistan, have long suffered from war, militancy, and economic deprivation, creating fertile ground for the “swift justice” and sharia regulations of militant Islamist groups. While the Pakistani army has had some success in wiping out extremist elements in the region, the Taliban and other Islamist forces still pose a significant threat. In this context of political instability, women and girls have often been the primary victims of extremist movements that have gained ground through patriarchal and discriminatory means. The suppression of women’s rights, however, has only added to the courage and resolve of those who have stepped forward to demand gender equality, often at the risk of isolation, torture, or even death. In her presentation, social activist Shad Begum outlined the challenges to women’s political and economic empowerment in PATA and highlighted those change-makers who are surmounting them. Drawing on her experience in the region, she provided recommendations for how best to equip emerging women leaders with the knowledge, skills, and networks needed to build a more equitable future in PATA and Pakistan.
To watch the program, please visit the following link,