Pakistan has experienced instability under both democratic and military led governments in its 64 year old existence. “Oxford Policy Management 2004 quotes that as a result of unequal and inappropriate allocation of resources in Pakistan, over 50% of the people remain poor, under-educated, excluded from participation in political processes and vulnerable to co-option by radical extremist groups. Women and minorities are worst hit of these vulnerabilities. The inability of the State to meet the needs of all citizens has distorted governance in the country. Fissures are developing in society, which together with existing inequalities are fuelling growing intolerance and community violence, and making minorities and women even more vulnerable.
At community level, small-scale disputes based on existing fault-lines of class, caste, religion and sex among others, (which impede citizens coming together, articulating local priorities clearly and holding service providers to account) can escalate into violent, larger scale conflict, attracting young people many of whom have fewer other options in their lives.
Weak governance, social exclusion and the limited capacity of citizens to develop coordinated demands to tackle resource allocation and improved service delivery are some of the reasons for continuing mass poverty in Pakistan. Improved citizen engagement with the state, and especially reform of the patronage-based political system and improved access to the political decision making will help to improve governance. For this to come about, a new and inclusive political compact is needed involving all sections of society. This requires women, young people and other excluded groups to be empowered to demand change, and for the state to respond effectively to the demands of all of its citizens for improved service delivery.
Keeping this rationale the AAWAZ project is developed to be implemented in six districts initially with four major outputs leading to a better society for women and minorities with
Better facilities and services,
Platform for joint actions and
Improved communication skills to resolve day to day conflicts that hinder collective thought process.
The outcome of the AAWAZ program is that democratic processes in Pakistan are more open, inclusive and accountable to citizens (by 2017). This will contribute to achievement of the impact of a stable, inclusive and tolerant democracy in Pakistan. Achieving the outcome will mean increasing the range of social actors engaged in political life so as to shift the incentives, disincentives and constraints operating on the political elite. The growing urban, middle class and community based groups who want change, and are prepared to work together to achieve it, will apply pressure for more accountable government and make it more difficult for feudal elites to continue to dominate politics.
AAWAZ program follows the participatory approach where men and women from rural districts from all ethnic and religious groups will form community forums to take the charge of their own development. SPO plans to focus on formation and capacity building of these groups at village, UC and district level, hence addressing the issues at all governance tiers.
The program overall is being run through a consortium of four organizations including Aurat Foundation, SPO and South Asia Partnership Pakistan as implementing partners and DAI as coordinating and secretarial partner. The financial support is coming from USAID.