Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) is a leading right- based civil society organization of Pakistan working for good governance, democracy, peace and human rights. With a national office in Islamabad and a dozen of field offices in all four provinces and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) SPO is present in more than 70 districts of Pakistan. The overall objective of SPO’s Programme is to strengthen and support community and public institutions for afore mentioned objectives. Over the years, SPO has developed a countrywide network of over 4000 civil society organizations (CSOs) as social change agent and built their research and advocacy skills.
Under Democratic Governance Program SPO gets actively engaged in Elections. In the 2008 elections, SPO was the only organization that was part of two consortiums i.e. Free & Fair Election Network (FAFEN) and Pakistan Coalition for Free and Fair Democratic Election (PACFREL) and carried out extensive election observation in all four provinces. The observation was carried out through locally trained male and female observers. In addition to that, SPO published a number of publications which includes posters, guidance leaflets, pamphlets on importance of women voters and mainstreaming minorities in election process.
For the general elections 2013, SPO with the support of Democratic Reporting International (DRI) sensitized and built capacity of district political party leaders on ECP’s “code of conduct” across four provinces of Pakistan. In another initiative, SPO with the support of DRI revived the Provincial Electoral Program Implementers Committee (PEPIC) in Sind and Punjab province where civil society organizations meet and discuss preparations for upcoming elections, discuss advocacy issues and plan for activities.
SPO is also observing general elections 2013. With the technical support from FAFEN, the observation will be carried out through more than 3000 male and female trained observers. Candidate forums at constituency level were organized with signed pledges & commitments from contesting election candidates for a safe and conflict free elections.
For gender inclusiveness, SPO with the support of two prominent human rights activists Ms. Tahira Abdullah and Ms. Naheed Aziz is undertaking a gender analysis of political parties’ manifestos. Findings and recommendations of it will be shared with leadership of major political parties in the form of a printed report.
For an effective voter education & mobilization campaign, SPO has made partnerships with BBC and Express TV where programs and promotional messages will be aired through their satellite and online streams. For better understanding and enhanced outreach at field level, a series of 6 posters on voter mobilization was also developed in Urdu language
To inculcate democratic values, inter provincial harmony and conflict free elections, SPO organized a 5 day long study tour to Sind province for a delegation of political party leaders from Punjab. The delegation, which comprises of district senior management of major political parties in Punjab visited party offices, met with prominent political leaders in Sind and developed a guideline for future cooperation.
SPO has published public awareness material to educate voters on importance and process of casting vote in the elections. In some of the districts help desks have also been set up to facilitate and guide voters, specially women through mock exercises. FM channels are being used for public awareness campaigns.