Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation
All Pakistan Youth Conference, Hyderabad, Pakistan - December 14 - 15, 2013.
The first All Pakistan Youth Conference organized by SG-WELDD brought together young women and men from 38 youth groups from 11 districts across Pakistan’s four provinces: Swat, Muzzafargarh, Okara, Nankana,Bhakkar, Khanewal, Vehari, Thatta, Shahadadkot, Jaffarabad and Karachi. For many participants, this was the first time they had been outside their district. Coming together, the youth constructed a dialogue through participatory group work; shared experiences of working on various social issues and in particular how this impacts on women. They also shared the challenges that they faced in attaining their goals, as well as their future plans.
In the second stage, the youth groups discussed the issues youth faced at the provincial level, including social-political factors and their impacts. Sharing their provincial analysis, participants critically analyzed their work in the context of the national scenario and put forward recommendations for a unified approach for a future plan of action. Key salient points of the action plan are as follows:
· A comprehensive Youth Policy should be devised and fully implemented in all four provinces of Pakistan.
· The Youth Policy should be disseminated vigorously through the internet, print and electronic media, as well as other accessible means of information.
· The youth identified early and/or forced marriage as a common social evil that they are working to eliminate in their own regions. Hence, they demanded the standardization of the age of marriage for both girls and boys to 18 years, and till further policy changes are in place, implementation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act. They also demand that violation of this law should result in substantial penalties for all the parties that are involved in the act, such as parents, nikah registrars, nikah khwans, jirga members and other decision makers.
· They demand that the state implement the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act and mete out punishments to the offenders under Article 509 of the Constitution of Pakistan on a regular and consistent basis, and hence promote a culture of punishment for the violation of all laws.
· All the youth groups demand that their respective provincial and national governments ensure secondary education for all.
· They also demanded that the state develop a curriculum that includes information on human rights and personal status laws, and which promotes tolerance and a culture devoid of violence, religious extremism and all forms of discrimination.
On the final day, the WELDD-strengthened Youth leaders presented their analyses and plans with elected representatives including a national Senator, representatives of 3 political parties and local elected representatives.
After the convention, participants marched towards the press club chanting slogans in support of democracy, women’s empowerment, peace and a just society. They urged the legislature set the minimum age for marriage at 18 years for both boys and girls and that child marriage be put to an end. More information about this march can be found here.