Narrowing the Gender Gap in Flood Affected Areas of Pakistan
The objective of the project was to reduce gender disparity and gender-based violence in eight flood affected districts of Pakistan. Its intended outcomes were: increased awareness of gender issues; increased progress towards certain Millennium Development Goals (MDG 3: gender equality and empowerment of women; MDG 4: reduced child mortality; and, MDG 5: improved maternal health); and increased capacity of women to counter gender discrimination and to hold government accountable.
The project objectives were directly relevant to the needs to strengthen gender rights and equity within Pakistan and especially within rural, marginalized flood prone areas The grantee took a rights based approach that integrated men as well as women into the project activities and structures. This increased project relevance for the communities and helped to ensure that the women were able to participate in these male dominated areas.
Lessons from Project
Participants felt that the project had an abrupt ending and some were waiting for it to continue. The mobile phones that were given to the participants as part of the project were also returned to the grantee at the end so that the beneficiaries were not automatically able to continue to use the tools they had learned.
Targets were ambitious in some cases and not fully met. The attribution of results based on some of the indicators chosen was also difficult given the number of other factors that affected the outcomes. For example, impact data provided by the grantee showed a nine percent increase in the number of women in the project areas who registered for the Computerized National Identity Card during the project period. However attribution for this is difficult given the widespread voter education efforts that were done in Pakistan in the lead up to the 2013 elections.
The monitoring and evaluation plan was admirably comprehensive as was the baseline survey. However, the impact survey only repeated a portion of the baseline questions which makes determination of impact difficult.
The project should have put in place stronger follow-up activities with the communities after the workshops as well as with the government officials, specifically on the findings of the Governance Performance Scorecards and mobile phone reporting. The Gender Reform Committee structures were underutilized as project implementation remained centralized and driven by the grantee.
The project developed and used a Gender and Governance Performance Scorecard to monitor governance and service delivery. It also used mobile phones to communicate instances of corruption and violence against women. Community members marked the scorecards and sent text messages to the authorities drawing attention to corrupt practices as well as violence against women. The grantee aggregated the data and the findings were discussed with local officials in quarterly Gender Reform Committee district meetings. However, resolving these issues required more than sharing the information with officials, and without follow up most of the problems remained unresolved.
The project introduced Gender Reform Committees as representational grassroots structures. These started in the communities at the district level and then grew to the provincial and national levels. This extended the project’s reach and built community ownership for gender rights activities.
The grantee worked with existing government policies and structures to promote gender equity, which grounded its activities within local governance and service delivery systems. For example, its work to promote registrations for birth and the Computerized National Identity Card addressed the basic preconditions for civil and political rights – the ability to be recognized by the State as a citizen. The participants who subsequently registered then became eligible for public services as well as gained the right to vote.
One challenge for the project was that the grantee did not provide material incentives to participants which had become expected in the flood affected areas after years of relief efforts. They were able to mitigate this to a large extent through socializing efforts that introduced the project and its activities; first to the male decision makers and then to the rest of the community.