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Women Accesses to Justice

Women Social Organization (WSO) is a non-government, non-profit organization working for women’s economic empowerment in Punjab. WSO was established by a group of visionary local women with a vision of “A society assuring equal resources, freedom and opportunities to women for a prosperous life.”The mission of organization is to “provide an integrated & innovative package of interventions to redress society in favour of women in Pakistan”. WSO has been providing several services such as microcredit, capacity building for entrepreneurship, education, health and infrastructure development for environment protection along with awareness raising and advocacy of women rights at community level. The gender equity is cross cutting theme for organization and social mobilization is a cross cutting strategy for the implementation of WSO’s programs. WSO is working with “Rights Based Approach” towards development. WSO understands that economic empowerment contributes to the social empowerment of women but gender discrimination can hinder women’s economic empowerment. Therefore, it is very necessary that women should have equal opportunities in society and ability to enjoy their rights. It is very necessary to facilitate women’s access to justice in order help them enjoy their rights entitled by state and religion. It has been observed that one of the major hurdles for women in accessing justice is male dominant culture in the avenues of justice.

Violence against women is a global issue, which has affected almost half of the population in globe. It is one of the most pervasive human rights violation denying the equality, dignity, self worth and right to enjoy fundamental rights of women and girls.

Violence against women is the worldwide concern. For decades, struggles being made to address the matter but the foremost bring to a standstill, is the deficient judicial system. It is very difficult and expensive for a common man to get justice in Pakistan. This access to justice becomes more challenging and difficult for women being part of the marginalized group of society. By and large, women have less access to and ownership of judicial processes because of their marginalized status vis á vis men in most societies. In addition to state-sponsored or condone discrimination against women, women are marginalized from the justice system because injustices against women are much more likely to occur in private than injustices against men. Also, men are likely to mediate women’s access to state institutions due to unequal power relations in the home, at work or in the State. The major flaw observed in the current prevailing system is the abridged participation of female in law. Most of the time it being observed that women are mistreated and their problem can not be addressed in the required manner just due to the deficiency of a female addressee. “Supporting women to Join Law Enforcement and Judicial Systems” was initiated under the fourth core objective of Gender Equity Program’s “enhancing gender equity by expending women’s access to justice and women’s human rights” by Aurat Foundation and USAID. This project aims to help final year law students to acquire knowledge and expertise to handle women’s rights cases and become a resource pool at the local level and additionally is expected to play a critical role as future women’s right defenders. This program will facilitate future women lawyers by ensuring that their knowledge and understanding of problems faced by women in increased and their capacity to handle such cases is enhanced. This is also expected to result in increasing pro bono support and appreciation of the issues faced by women in accessing timely and affordable mitigation through the legal justice system.

The geographical scope of the project is spread in districts; Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh from South Punjab and Lahore, Okara, Gujranwala, Sargodha and Faisalabad from North Punjab. This sphere of Punjab is still considered the core of violence against women issues. After the careful selection assessment of the aspirants multiple techniques of awareness raising and creating gender sensitization were adopted in the project, which includes Seminars, Focus Group Discussions and dialogues, networking and nine month paid internship. Series of activities was held for gender sensitization of male and female and their raising awareness about women related issues. In nine months internship special focus was driven to the professional learning of these students to make them good female professional lawyers for future. Line department exposure was the key element of the internship program to make the students familiarize with the relevant systems. This project has a very large spread effect on the community. Students in this project are feeling themselves above the line. They have exposed many unrevealed knowledge through this project. Positive effect of this project has been observed in the line departments. Now these students are coming in the field while enthusiasm of working for the offended women and to change the conventional insensitivity in the community.

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