Campaign against Child Marriage and Adolescent Pregnancies

Child Marriage and adolescent pregnancies are closely linked with the organization’s strategic objectives regarding empowerment of women, youth and children. Rahnuma-FPAP is rigorously to address the issue through its regular striving activities of diverse nature across Pakistan. In collaboration with UNFPA in 2007. Rahnuma-FPAP conducted a study titled “Child Marriage in Pakistan, a Taboo”.

The findings of the study are not just a problem of remote and marginalized areas of Pakistan, but are widely prevalent, affecting over a third of Pakistan’s adolescents, and continuing in a vicious cycle to affect their children. The report found that the highest percentage of child marriages in rural areas prevails in Sindh, with 72% of females and 26% of males in the selected sample, married before 20. Sindh also has a high percentage of females in urban areas married by 20, reaching 36%. Balochistan closely follows Sindh in terms of early marriages in rural areas. Desk review on the situation of Child Marriage “Child Marriage in Pakistan” situational analysis was conducted during 2011, which suggested many factors, including poverty, protection of girls, family honor and the provision of stability during unstable social periods, as the reasons behind child marriage. Strong correlations were found between a woman’s age at marriage, her level of education, age of her first delivery and the age of her husband. 

Rahnuma-FPAP initiated integrated and comprehensive interventions which included advocacy, lobbying, awareness, sensitization, BCC and services delivery. Some of these are

Women as compensation: reaching survivors of coerced marriages and violence in Pakistan: This project was specifically geared towards protecting victims of gender based violence in general, and girls & women who have fallen victim to the practice of Swara in particular. This project has reached more than 40,000 community members, including youth, women and men in 15 Union Councils each in Swabi and Mardan districts of KPK.

Child Marriage as a Violation of Human Rights; “Advocating for Effective Laws”: With the financial support of AusAid this project was undertaken during 2011-2012 to bring legislative reforms on child marriage in Pakistan. Through this project, commitments were solicited from government and policymakers to address the issue and revise Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA), 1929, in the context of UNCRC.

Advocating for Improved MNH and SRH Policy and Practice for Adolescent Girls and Young Mothers (April 2012-August 2014): This intervention was initiated with the funding of Care International in order to improve MNH and SRH policy and practice for adolescent girls and young mothers in Pakistan. Through this project, 2004 stakeholders on SRH & MNH issues and needs of adolescent girls and young mothers were addressed.

Increase Access to Health Services by Swara and Child Marriage Survivors and Their Children (January-December 2013): Funded by UN Women Slavery Fund, this project aimed to provide medical assistance in respect of primary and sexual and reproductive health care services vulnerable and marginalized young girls who became victims of Swara (Minor girls given as compensation) and Child Marriage.

Expanding Choices and Opportunities for Young people, Especially Young Married Girls in Pakistan: the Choices project remained operational between 2011 and 2014. Under these project, National Youth Network (NYN) members were involved in advocacy related initiatives, while focusing on child marriage. Youth volunteers were also engaged as a part of National Advocacy Alliance Against Child Marriage.

Pakistan Child Marriage (Prevention) Initiative-PCMI (October 2013-June 2016): PCMI project was initiated with the financial and technical support of Plan (International) Pakistan through its Sweden National Office (SNO) and Post Code Lottery with an aim to delay and ultimately prevent child marriages in three districts of Southern Punjab. The main objectives of the project were to facilitate attitudinal and behavioral change towards child marriage through increasing community and other stakeholder’s awareness, and advocating to bring about legislative reforms on the issue.

New initiative on Child Marriage: Based on Rahnuma-FPAP’s successful initiatives to prevent Child Marriage, project with Oxfam-Novib was initiated in September, 2015, with special focus on child marriage.

Major Milestones:

Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 which prohibits marriage of children under 18 years. Violation is punishable with three years of imprisonment.

In March 2015 Punjab Assembly passed an amended bill “The Punjab Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 2015 and made the existing law more punitive. However, the age issue of girls went unaddressed.

Deputy Speaker AJK Assembly directed the department of Law and Parliamentary Affairs of AJK to make proper amendments in Child Marriages law.

Provincial assemblies of Balochistan and KPK are also in the process of legislative reforms on Child Marriage.


Family Planning 2020

Reaching Out to the Unreached: Currently, over 200 million women and girls in developing countries who want to delay or avoid becoming pregnant do not have access to modern methods of contraception. For many of these women, the inability to choose and access family planning will cost them their lives. Avoiding unintended pregnancies reduces the number of unsafe deliveries and unsafe abortions–two of the main causes of maternal deaths.

FP2020 is a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves whether, when and how many children they want to have. FP2020 works with governments, civil society, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector and the research and development community to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020. FP2020 is based on the principle that all women, no matter where they live, should have access to lifesaving contraceptives. Achieving the FP2020 goal is a critical milestone to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services by 2030.

In line with FP 2020 Commitments, Government of Pakistan pledged to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2020 and raise the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) to 55% by 2020. So far after the 18th Amendment, provinces have developed health sector strategies for 2012–2020, which include FP promotion of FP. All the provincial governments in regularly monitor contraceptive prevalence rates (CPR), prioritize population issues in health and development plans and proportionately increase annual public spending for family planning services.

The provincial governments have fixed encouraging CPR targets for 2020 (Punjab province: 35% to 50% CPR, Sindh province: 30% to 45% CPR, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province: 29% to 42% CPR, Balochistan province: 14% to 32% CPR). All provincial governments are implementing strategic health plans that include promotion of family planning as an integral subject. Punjab is implementing a Facebook campaign and has committed to increase budget allocations to family planning. All provincial governments have committed to deliver universal access to family planning services and are developing health and population strategies in line with this commitment. Provincial governments have also pledged to allocate adequate resources to family planning. Federal government budget allocations for family planning have been increasing since 2012. Punjab has made health services a priority for 2015–16 and allocated 11.5% of the budget to health and family planning. 

The government of Pakistan has constituted a broad based FP 2020 Country Engagement Working Group (CEWG) represented by all provincial Health and Population Welfare Secretaries, INGOs, CSOs (Rahnuma-FPAP and MSP are representing CSOs in CCC) and private sector. Furthermore in line with FP 2020 commitments Sindh government has completed Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) and allocated 51.2 Billion rupees for next five years to be spent on population welfare program. It has also constituted a FP 2020 Working Group to oversee and supervise the FP 2020 implementation processes. It is pertinent to mention here that Rahnuma-FPAP is representing NGOs in this Working Group. The Punjab government has established Provincial Task Force on Population, comprising of high ranking officials of Health, PWD, Finance and P&D Departments/Ministries, INGOs, CSOs (Rhanuma-FPAP), Private sector. This Task Force is mandated to supervise and provide insight on FP 2020 Commitments and implementation processes.

Together for Change:

Rahnuma-FPAP spearheaded the pre London Summit campaign in Pakistan and brought everyone to the table for creating not only awareness but also exhibiting ownership of FP 2020 Commitments. The well-crafted campaign resulted in the formation of a high powered government delegation, and strong commitment. In the post London Summit (FP 2020) Scenario) Rahnuma-FPAP, along with like-minded partners, formed a broad based CSOs Advocacy network (FP 2020 Champions Group) represented by Packard Foundation, UNFPA, USAID, Aman Foundation, Green Star Social Marketing, Marry Stopes Pakistan, Shirkat Gah Women Resource Center, Aahung, Population Council Pakistan, Rutgers/WPF etc.

In Punjab, Sindh and KPK provinces, Rahnuma-FPAP along with other civil society actors carried out a broad based campaign to ensure that 197.7 million is allocated for FP services in the provincial budgets. Groundwork was to get the budget document analyzed, shared analysis with public sector entities and push for increase. It is to be noted that the provision of health facilities to the people is the utmost priority of the Punjab Government and it has allocated Rs. 166.13 billion for the health sector during FY 2015-16, which is 14.5% of the budget. Rs. 10.82 billion have been allocated for provision of medicines in the provincial hospitals. Punjab government is initiating Health Insurance Scheme to provide health cover to the poorest strata of society with an allocation of Rs. 2.85 billion in the next financial year. Civil society has been engaging with Department of Population and Health Finance and Planning to increase budget allocation and improve coordination between FP and other development areas.


Life Skilled Based Education

One of the objectives of Rahnuma-FPAP’s strategic framework is to advocate for the inclusion of Reproductive Health and Rights Education (RH&RE) in secondary education curricula. Although Pakistan’s education system includes population, family planning and reproductive biology related subjects/modules, formal curriculum for Reproductive Health and Rights Education (RH&RE) has not adequately been introduced and is still considered taboo.

Rahnuma-FPAP has worked hard to get Reproductive Health and Rights Education (RH&RE) included in the national and provincial curricula through effective advocacy efforts. Extensive work with peer educators, communities, schools, parents, teachers, religious scholars and policy makers, was followed by a series of interactive dialogues and lobbying meetings with national education and curriculum wings, provincial education departments and parliamentarians. Our continuous efforts to raise the issue on different forums has played an important role in breaking the silence and initiating discussion on this issue at various forums.

Main Highlights During 2015:

  • IEC material for awareness and sensitization of relevant stakeholders as developed
  • Interactive theatres were performed in the community to create awareness regarding health issues and rights of young people
  • A documentary on Reproductive Health and Rights Education (RH&RE) was developed to use as an advocacy tool

Champions on Reproductive Health and Rights Education (RH&RE) in Parliament, government departments, youth and media were created, and constituted a Task Force consisting of technical experts in Pakistan

Women Empowerment

Women Empowerment Program expanded its outreach to further strengthen integration with Core Program and other donor projects and achieve its mandate of women empowerment through an integrated multi-sectoral intervention efforts were made to create opportunities to empower young women in order to enhance their decision making skills and enable them to participate in mainstream development debates.

During 2015 under Women Empowerment Program three KATO Women Development Centers were strengthened and skill development trainings were provided to girls and women, while developing their linkages with Kato Centers through GPAF project. Furthermore skilled women were facilitated in acquiring loans for income generation. Women who received micro credit facility established their home based/small scale businesses and developed linkages with local vendors for marketing and sustainability of their products.

Sexual and Gender Based Violence: 

Rahnuma-FPAP designed a three pronged strategy of creating an enabling environment to address SGBV, improving access to quality services and economic empowerment of women and girls. Implementation of the strategy in year one suggests that the pilot model has been successful in identifying invisible cases of SGBV as well as enhanced self-confidence and status of the survivors which has improved their access to services. Furthermore, engaging men and boys has proved to be an effective strategy to generate support to address SGBV in the communities.

We have implemented GBV projects specifically aiming at the reduction of incidence of domestic violence against women (burning) with financial support from European Commission in 2006 and 2007. The main purpose was the capacity building of doctors, police officers, judges, lawyers, local representatives, religious leaders and media for the effective enforcement of Cr.PC 174-A, a new law enacted to punish the culprits of violence against women (burning). In the first phase, the project was implemented in Islamabad Region but in the second phase same activities and methodology was replicated at other locations of Islamabad, Peshawar and AJK (Jhelum, Chakwal, Attock, Haripur and Kotli).

The Family Health Hospital in Islamabad has established a Burns Unit wherein doctors are now trained to perform reconstructive surgery themselves. The organization has also recently implemented Operation Smile Again Project, in collaboration within Medicine Du Monde, in five districts with the objective to provide reconstructive surgery for Acid and Stove burn victims. The hospital has also recently entered into collaboration with Smile Again Foundation that helps burn victims through plastic surgery and counselling.

Women Home Based Worker:

Rahnuma-FPAP has been working with Home Based Workers since 1999 and has provided micro-finance to almost 70,000 women Home Based Workers (HBWs) at 26 locations across the country with the support of PPAF, Price Foundation, West Wind Foundation and Khushali Bank. These women HBWs are from rural and marginalised communities.

To empower the socially excluded segment of the society, awareness raising sessions on legal Rights, Human Rights, National Labour laws and occupational safety and health slanders among women HBWs in the community organized. To fully empower this vulnerable and marginalized group of the society, a strong referral mechanism developed for legal aid and provided the capacity building and micro entrepreneurship trainings to HBWs and also provided the micro finance facility and Sexual & Reproductive Health services to the home based workers. In addition, meetings with Employees, contractors, Mills, Factories representatives, Shopkeepers organized to create market linkages of these poor and marginalized women HBWs with markets for better rewards. To expand/establish their own business and gave facilitation to HBWs for getting loan from stakeholders like Tameer Bank, Khushali Bank etc.

Since most of the HBWs are linked with mills and shopkeepers, lack of skill to access markets and resources made them vulnerable to exploitation. However, at the same time there is great scope to empower these HBWs through integrated support and sensitization of employers and contractors which are mainly high income mills and shop keepers who can afford to provide minimum wages and better working conditions to the associated HBWs. There also exists great potential in developing linkages of the HBWs with local and national markets, hence reducing the exploitation by the middle man. The main achievement of the project are as follows:

Increased awareness on legal rights, human rights, national labor laws and occupational safety and health standards among women HBWs and stakeholders.

Marginlized Women and Youth in Rural Areas:

Rahnuma-FPAP with the help of CARE International initiated a project to enhance socio-economic development in Sindh, focusing on youth and rural women. Gender equity programming and building the capacity of local partner organizations are central themes of CARE programming in Pakistan. Implementing partners engaged in this project are leading community development non-governmental organizations having extensive experience in the designing and implementation of community based economic empowerment programs including the technical training and entrepreneurship skills focused on women and youth. As Provincial Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) possess great capacity in promoting and providing demand driven technical education and vocational training, CARE International in Pakistan along with its implementing partners would like to work in close coordination with Provincial TEVTAs in Sindh and Punjab in the efforts to enhance the quality and effectiveness of its workforce and develop dynamic training programs.

This project aimed at enhancing the economic status of rural women and youth in South Punjab and Sindh by improving the relevance and quality of TVET services, and enhancing the equitable access of women and youth to these services so that they can overcome capacity, information and technical gaps. In addition, the project also provided new income-generation opportunities through pilot-scale innovations and facilitated linkages between TVET beneficiaries and prospective employers and microfinance institutions (MFIs).

The project is aimed at redress the stereotyping that exists at the level of family and school by encouraging both boys and girls to go for “non-traditional” activities through skill development streams introduced at secondary school level. The transition from school to the labor market in Pakistan is not smooth; the youth unemployment rate is higher than the adult unemployment rate; many young people work in the informal sector as unpaid family workers, casual wage workers; and female youth are in worse shape than their male counterparts on various employment dimensions.

A technical and vocational training project initiated for youth and women, in Tando Allahyar, Mirpur Khas and Thatta districts of Sindh, with the coordination of Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Association (STEVTA). The program aimed at sustainable empowerment of women by providing government certified vocational trainings and linked them to the markets through internships and job placements with the local industries.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) Program

Comprehensive sexuality education is a new concept in Pakistan which is ignored at all government levels. Current national and provincial policies and strategic documents do not adequately address the subject. Although the education system in Pakistan includes population, family planning and reproductive biology modules, there exists no formal curriculum for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) because it is still considered as a taboo subject.

One of the objectives of adolescent strategic framework of Rahnuma-FPAP is to advocate for the inclusion of CSE in the secondary education curriculum. In an extremely conservative setting of Pakistan, inclusion of CSE in the official curriculum of schools requires massive advocacy efforts. This process is proving to be long and cumbersome. In order to address the issue and create conducive environment, a holistic approach have been adopted towards awareness and advocacy. Rahnuma-FPAP is also working with other civil society organizations as a taskforce for the CSE advocacy. Rahnuma-FPAP has joined the hands with the likeminded organizations to develop a National Alliance and raise the collective advocacy voices for CSE. Rahnuma-FPAP is working with Rozan, Rutgers WPF, UNFPA, Oxfam-novib, Plan international Pakistan and Aahung as a task force. This taskforce has worked in close collaboration and has developed the Comprehensive sexuality education framework for Pakistan.

Rahnuma-FPAP is working with both in school and out of school adolescents and young people in this regard. However the main objective is to get the CSE included in the national and provincial curriculums through effective advocacy efforts. As part of advocacy campaign, Rahnuma-FPAP works with peer educators, communities, schools, parents, teachers and religious scholars and policy makers. Rahnuma-FPAP is using the following strategies to implement the CSE in school and out of school adolescents and young people to impart the CSE. 

Implementation Strategy

  • Training of Peer educators on CSE at Community level
  • Training of Young leaders & Advocates on CSE
  • Sessions on CSE in school with Adolescents and young people
  • Peer education sessions on CSE with out of school Adolescents and young people at Youth Resource Centers
  • Training of youth on performing theatre on CSE
  • CSE Theater performances conducted by trained youth in the marginalized communities
  • Capacity building of service providers on SGBV, YFS, LSBE and CSE
  • Teacher training on CSE at School
  • Training for Stakeholders on CSE
  • Training of Trainers of Project Staff on LSBE & SRHR were conducted to built their capacity on LSBE, YFSRH Services and Advocacy
  • Interactive dailgue with policy makers, Goverment & civil socitey members

CSE Contributions:

  • Addition of a new chapter on values, Culture and Diversity in the comprehensive sexuality education
  • Gender segregated peer educators tool kits on CSE in Urdu
  • Training manual for peer educators on CSE
  • Pictorial booklets and leaflets on CSE
  • Handbooks for in school youth on CSE (Boys, secondary school)
  • Handbooks for in school youth on CSE (Girls, secondary school)
  • A teacher training manual based on CSE
  • A comprehensive documentary on CSE
  • Developed Monitoring and Assessment tools to understand the information level in young people on Comprehensive sexuality education

Street Theater:

Rahnuma-FPAP has engaged different theater groups across the country and provided training on the scripts. 6-7 members of each group are invited in a three day’s training facilitated by a professional group of trainers from an expert firm having long experience in conducting trainings of theatre groups on social issues in Pakistan. After spending enough time in field in conducting theatres as agreed and planned with Rahnuma-FPAP through written agreements by the trained groups in each location, refresher trainings are also organized for the same theatre groups. These trained groups are involved in creating awareness among the target communities through street theatre performances on different component of CSE.

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