Speaking for Change: Voice and Women's Empowerment
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The realities of women’s lives in Pakistan are complex and challenging. The first section of this detailed scoping paper which was presented at the Pathways South Asia Hub Scoping Workshop, 19-21 August 2006, presents an overview of current day discrimination that Pakistani women and girls face, including reduced access to resources, and discriminatory legal and customary practices. To understand women’s voice, this paper uses the 'Sustainable Livelihoods Framework'. The second section describes initiatives that have helped expand women’s political space in Pakistan. These initiatives are focused on mainstream as well as non-formal political space. This section analyses the role of (a) Pakistan’s women’s movement; (b) one civil society initiative, the People’s Assemblies; and (c) the media in expanding women’s public space. The third section briefly describes challenges to giving women greater voice in decision-making. The final section gives recommendations: People’s Assemblies should be studied to assess their potential for expanding women’s public space; contextual differences and their impact on processes such as People’s Assemblies should be studied; opportunities presented by the media should be assessed; the lives and work of role models from Pakistan’s women’s movement should be documented and widely disseminated. Further areas of related research are highlighted.