In 2009, WISE collaborated with Bedari, a women’s rights organization based in Islamabad, on a domestic violence awareness campaign in district Jhelum, an impoverished region of Punjab, Pakistan. Impetus for the project came after a bill against domestic violence passed in late 2009 by the National Assembly of Pakistan but which later lapsed in the Senate.
Bedari, a non-governmental development organization holds a 15-year record of successfully supporting women survivors of violence through crisis centers and other services, such as increasing public awareness about domestic violence through creative community-based education and cross-sector communication among legal and social service professionals. Anbreen Ajaib, program manager at Bedari, proposed a joint collaboration with WISE after attending the 2009 WISE convening in Malaysia. She was influenced by the Change through Communication module of the conference to develop an education and advocacy campaign against domestic violence.
With WISE, Bedari developed a domestic violence awareness campaign designed to encourage dialogue and understanding of gender equity. The program consisted of four key components: producing literature in Urdu on domestic violence; producing theatric community performance on domestic violence; facilitating dialogue among all members of the community, including police, politicians, and opinion makers in ensuring strong domestic violence legislation; and holding community-based awareness workshops with experts on how to recognize or speak out against domestic violence.
The project replicated proven effective awareness and sensitization campaigns that had been used in other districts. The collaboration was designed to focus on increasing awareness of domestic violence against women and related pending legislation. The project responded to an identified need to expand its work on domestic violence awareness geographically in very impoverished and illiterate or semi-illiterate communities in the district of Jhelum (Punjab). A critical component of the program was staging community theatre productions on domestic violence. Bedari and others have found that street theater is an effective communication tool in areas where most of the population is either illiterate or semi-literate, and that inclusion of youth actors helped to attract young viewers. Staging the theater performances in multiple community locations helped reach multiple audiences efficiently in a short time period.
The project’s key results included:
With the help of 60 Muslim contributors (academics, scholars, imams, activists and specialists), we completed the 400-page research and evidence-based report, called WISE Up, aimed at fighting Islamophobia and extremism with experience, knowledge and good judgment, and to show that the American Muslim community is collectively speaking out against all forms of hate, including Islamophobia and terrorism.
In order to address the promotion of women’s rights in Afghanistan, WISE collaborated with the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization (NECDO), a non-governmental development organization dedicated to helping women and children in need.
From 2008 to 2010, WISE collaborated with a local partner organization dedicated to raising awareness about discrimination against women, in an effort to reduce the number of FGC cases in the Dair El Nahia region of Giza, Egypt.