Change Makers - Pakistan
Sanjaya Kumar Chaudhari a farmer from Saptari, says, “After seeing how my wife’s stature grew in our society after she joined the campaign, I enlisted as a member too. I must say that I have been inspired by her and have taken on the responsibilities of a Change Maker very seriously. I now talk to people within the community and when families seek me out I try and sort out problems that they face.”
Javed Shah is a 37-year-old journalist in district Larkana actively involved in ‘We Can’ in Sindh province. Being the secretary of the local Press Club and a reporter for a number of credible newspapers, he has been able (through his writings) to highlight the negative fall-outs of violence against women in various spheres of life, initiate debates on non-violent ways to resolve conflicts and provide new concepts of masculinity. By keeping a consistent focus on the issue, he has been able to gain public support for the survivors of violence and at-risk women.
Muhammad Jan Odhano says, “I am happy to be part of ‘We Can’ as it has given me an opportunity to save five innocent girls and provide them with a safe environment. The credit goes to ‘We Can’ Change Makers and allies who showed solidarity and took a stand to end violence against women.”
“Violence against women, and in particular honour ‘killings’, is not specific to the Sindh province. Women suffer uniformly across the four provinces of Pakistan. Inadequate government policies and tribal and feudal structures have aggravated the crisis. The situation can be remedied through sustained awareness-raising initiatives”, Ahmed says.
Munawar Abro, a famous cartoonist from Dokri, Sindh, who has recently moved to Karachi, has been actively involved with ‘We Can’ since its inception in Pakistan. Besides participating in workshop to develop communication material, the Change Makers’ Assembly and the national launch ceremony, he has been actively supporting the campaign and designing campaign communication material for use in Sindh. Like many young people, he had given up writing poetry when he set out on his professional career with a media concern.
Twenty three-year-old Naveed Soomro from Hyderabad wanted to follow a career in computer engineering. Sadly, due to financial constraints he could not pursue the career path of his choice. He now works as a computer technician. Naveed learnt about ‘We Can’ when he visited the Hyderabad office to fix a computer problem. He took some of the campaign material home with him and it motivated him to join the campaign. He began visiting the office regularly to learn more about the campaign and how he could be involved.
Khalida Brohi is a 16-year-old Change Maker working as a volunteer with Participatory Development Initiatives (PIDE), a ‘We Can’ ally in Sindh. After joining the campaign, Khalida chose to contribute to it in the form writing news articles, poetry and editorials. She also talks about the campaign to her colleagues, friends and relatives. She says, “I am thankful to ‘We Can’ for providing people with an opportunity to speak out against ‘honour’ killings. The campaign has the potential to unleash a big revolution.”
Humera Alwani has been a member of the Sindh Provincial Assembly representing the Pakistan Peoples Party since 2002. As a Change Maker, she has been actively involved in the campaign at the district, provincial and national levels. She has addressed campaign events and seminars, and presented her poetry to highlight the issues of the campaign. As a parliamentarian, Humera has been raising voice for women rights and speaking up on violence against women and ‘honour’ killings on the assembly floor.
Hamaytullah Mayer is the District Nazim of Mardan, a highly conservative area of North West Frontier Province. He has been an active supporter of the campaign and has extended his support to its launch and to the campaign’s public seminars by making available the District Assembly Hall. At the campaign launch, he announced a ban of the practice Sawara (where women are exchanged to settle local disputes) in Mardan district. He directed police officials to take action not only against the concerned parties alone but to also arrest jirga members involved in such decisions.
Aqeela Yasmeen is a school teacher and a women rights’ activist in Akora Khattak village, District Nowshera, North West Frontier Province. She works at the community level to raise awareness among women about their rights and educates small groups on how to address the issue of violence against women using ‘We Can’ materials. Through years of dedicated work in her community, she has developed credibility and respect among her neighbours, particularly the women.
Musarrat Shafi has been a practicing lawyer in district Kohat in the North West Frontier Province for the last 10 years. As a social activist committed to the cause of ending all forms of violence against women, she provides free legal aid to women. She has brought relief to 100 women survivors of violence and helped those who live in fear of being abused. She regularly visits the local prison and the Women Crisis Centre to highlight the problems being faced by women there and as a Change Maker, Musarrat plays an important role in spreading campaign messages in her area.
Rafiq Zaman Khan belongs to a well respected Khan family and is active member of Swabi Jirga - a traditional community-based institution to settle local disputes. He learnt about ‘We Can’ when the campaign district allies organised Makha (a traditional arrow and bow game) tournament at Swabi in early 2006 to raise campaign issues. Rafiq has always been skeptical of NGOs and about their agendas but he was moved by the messages of ‘We Can’.