Aurat Foundation

Aurat Foundation

Islamabad

The Aurat Foundation is a nationwide women's CSO in Pakistan with an extensive grassroots-level network. Aurat has implemented dozens of large-scale social, economic, and educational programs for grassroots women and leaders throughout Pakistan to increase women’s economic and political capital, with the aim of creating a more just, democratic, and caring society.

Partner Focus Areas

Ending child marriage and honor killing
Women with disabilities
Political participation
Economic empowerment

Partnership Highlights

Partner since 2006
Family law reform
Trainings for women politicians and political parties
South Asia regional outreach
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About Aurat Foundation

The Aurat Foundation is a national non-profit, non-governmental organization working for women's empowerment and democratic governance in Pakistan. Founded in 1986, the Aurat Foundation is headquartered in Islamabad, with five regional offices in the provincial capitals of Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Gilgit, and 37 field offices.

After joining the WLP Partnership in 2006, the Aurat Foundation has continued to support civil society organizations, federal, provincial, and local governments and political parties, and other public and private institutions. The Aurat Foundation coordinates an extensive countrywide network of voluntary citizens’ groups and individual activists in the 128 districts of Pakistan. Over the last 30 years, the Aurat Foundation has been recognized nationally and internationally as one of the leading institutions creating effective collaborations among citizens and civil society organizations mobilizing for women’s empowerment. The Aurat Foundation works primarily in English and Urdu.

Pakistan TOT 2017
A participant presents key participatory leadership concepts during an Aurat Foundation workshop in Islamabad.

Recent Accomplishments

  • The Aurat Foundation has collaborated with a range of civil society organizations on women’s rights legislative advocacy. Recent successes have included the passage of a domestic violence bill in three provinces, the Anti-Rape Criminal Amendment Act of 2015, the Child Marriage Restrained Act in Sindh, and a new home-based workers’ policy in Sindh and Balochistan. In early 2017, the Aurat Foundation’s advocacy for the Hindu Marriage Bill led to the bill’s passage in the Pakistani Senate. This bill helps protect Hindu women from forced conversions to Islam by giving them access to official documentation to prove that they are married. 
  • Since July 2011, the Aurat Foundation has been collaborating with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) on women’s Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC), voter registration, and voter education in 34 districts. In 2013 alone, this campaign provided CNICs to nearly 1.6 million women.
  • In 2017, Aurat Foundation organized a national conference of women journalists in collaboration with Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, where the resolution was passed demanding reservation of seats for women in the National Press Club (NPC) Governing body. The demand was accepted and the NPC constitution was changed as result. Female journalists who participated in WLP-based trainings played a vital role in putting forward and later implementing the demand. Aurat Foundation also funded the NPC to make a room for women journalists and to create space for women in the Press club.
  • In 2012, the Aurat Foundation published and presented an influential shadow report for the UN CEDAW Committee on the current status of women’s rights in Pakistan while the country was under review by that body.
  • The Aurat Foundation has conducted several rapid and far-reaching national campaigns for natural disaster relief, including rehabilitation of disaster survivors and crisis assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Pakistan.
  • The Aurat Foundation has led numerous campaigns to promote women's representation in local government. Since 1998, Aurat has been training women candidates on how to run for political office and conducting citizens' campaigns to maximize women's representation in local government elections in 1998-99, 2000 and 2005, 2008 and 2013.
Pakistan Pre TOT 2017
A facilitator explains examples of women's political activism during an Aurat Foundation leadership training.

Organizational Programs and Activities

Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP)

  • The Aurat Foundation has collaborated with the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Commission on the Status of Women to sponsor a policy dialogue to increase PWD participation in the political process.
  • Through an Android app developed in 2015 called DIVE, persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Pakistan are now able to obtain information about local facilities and resources available to them, including education and rehabilitation centers, employment opportunities, and laws and guidelines for voter registration. The Aurat Foundation is working to make this app accessible to every disabled citizen in Pakistan.
  • In collaboration with the Embassy of the United States and the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Human Rights, each year the Aurat Foundation celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

AAWAZ Voice and Accountability

  • This five-year program is strengthening civil society and democratic processes in Pakistan through increased transparency, inclusivity, and accountability in 45 districts across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The Aurat Foundation addresses a range of issues relating to democratic accountability such as the disenfranchisement of women, intra-party women's quotas on general seats, and access to gender-disaggregated data.

Gender Equity Program (GEP)

  • The Aurat Foundation, in collaboration with the Asia Foundation, is providing over 400 grants to civil society organizations and gender-related governmental organizations. The Aurat Foundation’s outreach efforts extend to all of Pakistan's districts, to organizations working at the grassroots and community levels, and to others working regionally and nationally.
Participants Working NTOT Pakistan
Two participants review materials on democracy-building and political participation at a National Training of Trainers workshop hosted by Aurat Foundation, WLP’s partner in Pakistan.

SUBAI Provincial Assembly

  • The Aurat Foundation’s SUBAI program provides wide-ranging support services to Pakistan’s Provincial and Legislative Assemblies in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and KPK. The Aurat Foundation currently collaborates with the Delegation of the European Union in Pakistan to support democratic processes and government accountability. The program provides capacity-building and technical support for elected representatives, selected committees, and secretariats of the Provincial Assemblies.

LISTEN—Leverage in Social Transformation of Elected Nominees

  • The Aurat Foundation is promoting active citizenship among 1,200 women and youth in 30 targeted districts by building their capacity to dialogue and engage with their elected provincial and national assembly representatives. The Foundation is assisting at the policy-making and implementation levels to promote women's interests and to create frameworks for implementing policies for women at the grassroots level.

Benazir Income Support Program (SM-BISP)

  • Through the BISP program, the Aurat Foundation is increasing the economic empowerment of poor people and dependent family members, including women and youth. BISP initiatives have reduced poverty and promoted a more equitable distribution of wealth in Pakistan through Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCTs), Conditional Cash Transfers, vocational training, interest-free microfinance loans, and healthcare for vulnerable persons.

Policy and Data Monitoring on Violence Against Women

  • The Aurat Foundation monitors and documents cases of violence against women and works towards making the issue a higher priority on the agendas of major political parties and decision-making bodies at the national level. The Aurat Foundation conducts evidence-based research on violence against women and on medical and legal support services, and helps legislative bodies incorporate their findings and those of other NGOs into new policies and legislation. The Aurat Foundation has given technical and human resources support to the Ministry of Human Rights, and assisted its Law Reform Committee on drafting bills against rape and honor crimes.
The [founding of the] Aurat Foundation was triggered by repressive laws. We understood very early on that one of the greatest things that needed to be done was to bring women into the field of politics, and that women should participate, as voters, as candidates, and as people who stand for office.

,President, Aurat Foundation

About Pakistan

  • Population: 193 million
  • Located in Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, India to the east, Iran and Afghanistan to the west, and China to the north.
  • Created to meet the demands of Indian Muslims for their own homeland, Pakistan was born out of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947.
  • The 1961 Muslim Family Law Ordinance, which regulated marriage, divorce, and polygamy continues to have a significant legal impact on the women of Pakistan.
  • Common law system with Islamic law influence.
  • Citizenship by descent: at least one parent must be a citizen of Pakistan.
  • Religions: Muslim (official) 96.4% (Sunni 85-90%, Shia 10-15%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 3.6%
  • Seats held by women in national parliament: 21%
  • Labor force: 22.4% female
  • Female literacy: 45.8%
Aurat Foundation advocacy to end violence 2014
Activists convene during an Aurat Foundation advocacy event to end violence against women.
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