Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) is the women lead registered organization whose resources and energies concentrate on mainstreaming the less-privileged and marginalized sections of society – women, persons with disabilities, and religious minorities. The AWAM is engaged in a) Human Rights Education, b) Research and Policy Analysis, and c) Influencing Decision Makers, and d) Connectivity of Local Groups with State Institutions. These dimensions have expanded the purview of the AWAM that provided logical grounds to team to work with Human Rights Institutions, Law-Makers, Law-Enforcers, Political and Religious Factions, and Community Groups to connect and communicate the grassroots concerns to decision-makers. All the AWAM’s efforts are concerned to contribute to establish a just, peaceful and inclusive society where diversities are respected and the people are treated equally.

  • To strengthen the capacities of different segments of society in the context of equality of citizenship and opportunity for the recognition of the marginalized sections, i.e., women, persons with disabilities and religious minority, and bridge the gap between the mentioned groups and state-institution/authorities,
  • To take initiatives to meet the un-tackled needs and problems of women and empower them for playing their role in practical politics & policy-making regarding social issues and structures based on democratic norms and values,
  • To assist deserving women legally irrespective of race, religion, caste or creed for ensuring their access to justice, and invite the media attention to the need of emphasizing the status of the family, and highlight women’s positive image and role in community development,
  • To promote peaceful coexistence, cultural and other social activities through motivational endeavors, awareness campaigns, cultural programs, and celebration of international days.
Human Rights Education

Inclusion and participation of women, persons with disabilities, and religious minorities at all levels are the primary focus of the AWAM. Therefore, human rights education is the fundamental component adopted in all the campaigns being designed and implemented by the organization to strengthen capacities and provide information to empower and train other community groups. Such strategic approaches transform local context to improve socio-political and socio-economic conditions, influence the socio-political situation to count less-privileged or marginalized groups, and promote human rights education. The ultimate purpose of all the efforts is to advance the concept of equal rights and opportunities for excluded groups such as women, persons with disabilities, religious minorities, and transgender people to enjoy legitimate liberties. To amplify and accelerate diverse groups’ efforts, the AWAM is engaged with Human Rights Institutions, Academia, Intellectuals, Journalists and Media Houses, Lawyers and Political Parties to empower women, persons with disabilities, and religious minorities.

Research and Policy Analysis

Laws and Policies always play a pivotal role in promoting and protecting the rights of the people. However, to assess the trickled down effects and observe the fruit of the legislation at the grassroot level is the domain of the AWAM. The research activities around issues related to women, persons with disabilities, and religious minorities, particularly, to assess that the laws and policies realize the aspirations of the general masses or demand much concentrated efforts from the decision-makers. The findings allow the AWAM to design the campaigns and finding common working grounds to collaborate with diverse stakeholders. Considering the AWAM’s mandates, result-oriented research and policy analysis is the unique features of the strategies to find the facts that obstructing the marginalized sections, particularly women, persons with disabilities, and religious minorities, from enjoying equal status. The findings also expose the trends of violation and invite the attention of key decision-makers.

Influencing Decision Makers

The grassroot activities and interaction with community groups made the AWAM find the grey areas of the implementing machinery’s policies and technical glitches. The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, ensures equal rights and citizenship and forbids the decision-makers from introducing laws and policies that are in contradiction to ensure equal status. However, the poor will to transform such provisions as enshrined in the constitution into practical and under-resourced institutional setup obstruct vulnerable segments or less privileged groups to exercise their fundamental liberties. In this regard, the gesture to communicate the concerns of the grassroot communities and interaction with key decision-makers that can influence the laws and policies is one of the essential strategies of the CSOs. Such a context has created a space for the AWAM to interact and engage with key decision-makers to urge them to address the issues and resolve the concerns related to the statutes and implementation mechanisms.

Connectivity of Local Groups with State Institutions

Public sensitization and general awareness about the laws, policies and human rights institutions are the part and parcel component of effectiveness of statutes. The effectiveness of human rights institutions is dependent upon the connectivity of the grassroot community/groups. In this respect, the AWAM is playing its role connecting the grassroot movements to the human rights institutions and educating the general masses about the laws and policies concerning to empowerment of vulnerable groups including: women, persons with disabilities and religious minorities. This component is helping the AWAM for building the body of knowledge of different groups, bridging the gap between the community groups and state institutions, and building alliances. The CSOs believe that merely introduction of laws and establishment of Human Rights Institutions without awareness at mass level is a futile effort and would cut no ice. Hence, effectiveness of laws, policies and institutions depend upon the connectivity of the people.

Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

Women’s Empowerment is the core mandate of AWAM Pakistan. For AWAM, empowering women is crucial for gender equality as empowerment increases their self-worth, decision-making power, access to resources, control over their lives, and ability to influence social behaviors. Women and girls make up half of the world’s population, which means they have tremendous potential to contribute to society. However, gender inequality remains a pervasive issue that hinders social progress. Trends and tendencies to accept violence, workplace harassment, discriminatory laws and customary practices, and discrimination at the workplace remain the barriers hindering women’s empowerment that further appreciates gender disparities and inequalities.

In Pakistan’s socio-political context, the country has ratified several international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It is also under obligation to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Regarding it, successive governments have introduced numerous laws and policies and established human rights institutions to protect and promote human rights and women’s rights.

The primary focus of AWAM’s interventions is to identify and address the underlying societal factors that contribute to harmful practices such as early marriage, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination. By targeting these root causes and working towards their elimination, AWAM is helping to create a safer and more equitable society for all.

The AWAM concentrates on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. For this, the AWAM is engaged with grassroots communities, authorities, and political decision-makers to influence the local trends and urge the authorities and political decision-makers to play their role in improving the status.

With respect to it, the organization is educating local communities about women’s rights, gender equality, customary practices that discriminate against women, and the impacts of rising trends and the tendency of underage marriages. The organization also provides information on laws that protect women’s rights and human rights.

The organization focuses on capacitating young women and encouraging them to play their leadership role in empowering women and women human rights defenders who are engaged in protecting the rights of women with disabilities, women belonging to religious minorities, and working women of informal sectors – particularly home-based and domestic workers.

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 and 16 guided the AWAM’s strategic dimensions that encourage the organization to launch a number of campaigns such as capacitating women’s human rights defenders, countering early age marriages of girls, religious conversion of minority girls, encouraging girls’ education, sexual and reproductive health rights, and civil and political liberties of women.

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has sparked new discussions on disability rights and influenced lawmakers to adopt policies that focus on empowering people with disabilities and engaging them in social activities. The convention emphasizes inclusion, legal protection, and treating persons with disabilities as a diverse group with certain rights and social roles, along with responsibilities similar to those of non-disabled individuals.
Persons with disabilities are often overlooked or excluded from the conversation. While this group has received some acknowledgment from society and garnered sympathy, it has typically been in the context of charity and welfare rather than being recognized as human (whole) and a diverse group.
In response to the UNESCAP’s announcement of the first disability decade, Pakistan introduced the ‘Disabled People (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981’. This ordinance was established with the aim of providing persons with disabilities access to medical treatment, financial assistance, and employment opportunities. The government also reserved a 1% quota for employment opportunities, which was subsequently increased to 2%. However, Punjab increased it to 3%.
Successive governments have introduced a range of changes to the legal framework, institutions, and dedicated services. These changes include reserved quotas, provision of assistive devices and artificial limbs, financial support, and skill training centers. However, despite these efforts, the non-availability of proper data, inaccessible infrastructure with insufficient resources, and bureaucratic hurdles are preventing people from fully benefiting from these initiatives.
The AWAM organization works with marginalized sections of society, with a primary focus on persons with disabilities. Since its establishment in 2007, AWAM has been advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, with a particular emphasis on women with disabilities.
The AWAM is committed to promoting equality of rights and social inclusion for all individuals. Considering its mandate, the organization is educating local communities on disability rights, establishing Self-Help Groups, conducting research studies, and capacitating persons with disabilities to communicate with authorities and parliamentarians. In addition, it is a mandatory component of all the projects and campaigns of the AWAM to educate individuals on dedicated services and reserved facilities. The AWM also engaged in facilitating them in completing essential documentation [which includes disability certificate and National Identity Card with Universal Logo of Disability] and connecting them with social protection hemes.
The AWAM is actively involved in communicating with parliamentarians, authorities, national human rights institutions, and political parties to urge them to take measures that ensure the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These measures emphasize the importance of accessibility, social inclusion, and political participation.

Religious Minorities

Pakistan is regarded as a land of rich diversity – in terms of culture, religion, ethnicity, and language. However, such attributes as diversity are simultaneously a strength of the nation and have complicated socio-political and socio-cultural contexts. Therefore, the context of diversity and multiple identities increases the probability of conflict among the communities. Hence, it increases the responsibilities of the authorities and political decision-makers for maintaining a pluralistic order of identities, cultures, and values that fits the cultural and ethnic needs of Pakistan’s diverse communities.
Generally, minority groups, particularly religious minority groups that are 3.7% of the total population, are still striving to be acknowledged as equal citizens. However, the religious identity of minority groups has made them vulnerable to persecution and different forms of discrimination that have created a chasm between minority and majority.
Historically, minorities have faced significant challenges across legal, social, and cultural dimensions, resulting in discrimination and victimization. The increasing number of hate speeches and persecution of non-Muslims in various parts of Pakistan raises concerns about the country’s constitutional guarantees of equal citizenship and opportunities for all.
In addition, discriminatory laws, biased policies, and underrepresentation in political avenues widened the chasm between the majority and the minority. Resultantly, it has not only affected the bond of social cohesion and unity but also disturbed the inter-religious harmony.
The Association for the Advancement of Religious Minorities (AWAM) is working to communicate the concerns and issues of religious minorities to legislators, government officials, and international human rights committees. Additionally, in collaboration with other organizations and groups, AWAM is raising a collective voice to advocate for statutes that ensure equal citizenship status, access to opportunities, non-discrimination, peaceful coexistence, and freedom of religion or belief.
Regarding the action plan for the rights of religious minorities, the AWAM has set its strategic dimensions in the light of the SDG principle ‘Leave No One Behind’. In addition to it, the AWAM has also considered the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, and Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious, and Linguistic Minorities while its political communication with national and international stakeholders in the perspective of minority rights.