1975, International Womens Year: Shirkat Gah Womens Resource Centre (literally meaning a place of participation) is formed as a non-hierarchical collective to integrate consciousness raising with a development perspective and to initiate projects translating advocacy into action.
Today, a quarter of a century later, Shirkat Gah (SG) has expanded well beyond the Collective to an organisation working in all four provinces of Pakistan with three offices and has ECOSOC status at the United Nations. Living up to its name, Shirkat Gah adopts a participatory approach I its internal functioning and all its activities.
OBJECTIVES AND FOCUS
Fully empowered women in a just and vibrant, democratic and tolerant and environmentally sound society, where equity and opportunity are ensured for all, resources sustainable used, where peace prevails and where the state is responsive.
Womens empowerment for social justice and social justice for womens empowerment
To bring this about, SG:
· Promotes women-appropriate development schemes, programmes, policies and laws;
· Enhances womens autonomy, access to resources, and all levels of decision-making;
Conscious of the composite interrelated factors that determine womens lives, SGs ongoing focus is:
· Law ant Status;
· Sustainable Development; &
· Womens Economic Empowerment.
Gender awareness, popular education, analysis and training cut across all programmes and activities.
New Areas of Focus
· Reproductive Rights & Reproductive Health
STUCTURE AND STRATEGY
Shirkat Gah has a matrix management system in a flat structure supported by:
· A 17 member Collective as the overall policy-making body, whose members help design SG initiatives;
· Offices of Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar with a combined staff of some 75 persons;
· Four coordinators responsible for planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects.
Shirkat Gah has an integrated approach to development and womens rights that combines advocacy and capacity building based on research, networking and publications.
Bridging the gap between the reality of womens lives and national and international policy, SG:
· Catalyses the empowerment of women through a participatory process, in which NGOs and CBOs are a primary channel for reaching women in their communities;
· Actively lobbies at both the national and international levels; and
· Undertakes innovative research, documentation and dissemination of information.
Aims to change laws and politics, attitudes ad practices. Years of strategic lobbying with policy-making bodies and community interaction equip SG to contribute to policy formation at the national and international levels and to help broaden agendas at the grassroots.
Advocacy around the issues of women and development, human rights (including reproductive health and rights), the environment and globalisation addresses:
· Local communities through CBOs
· Local decision-makers
· Policy-makers in Pakistan (from district to national levels)
· International NGO platforms
· The United Nations system.
Strengthens conceptual, advocacy, organisational and practical skills of people, especially women, by providing linkages with other organisations and support service providers, disseminating information, providing advice, internships, inclusion in SGs activities and campaigns, and training.
Each year, SG builds the capacity of over 30 community based organisations (CBOs) as well as others.
Alternative training programmes include:
· 40-days Paralegal Training Curse
· Legal Awareness Sessions
· Reproductive Health and Rights
· TBA Training
· Environment and Sustainable Development
· Gender Awareness and Analysis
· Research Methodologies
Initiate, respond to, and circulate campaigns for human rights, legal reforms and environmental issues.
Provide support to individuals in crisis situations, advice and legal assistance through SGs own resources and by linkages with other institutions.
Connects over 1,500 individuals, CBOs, NGOs and other actors on a wide variety of issues. SG actively participates in a number of national, regional and international NGO coalitions, networks and alliances; SG is the Asian region coordination office for the international solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and a member of IUCN The World Conservation Union.
Having more than twenty-five yeas of experience in archival and empirical research, SG has pioneered studies in the areas of women in the informal sector. Women and sustainable development, womens reproductive health and rights, the interface of culture, religion and law, women in political processes, globalisation and its multiple effects.
SG Documentation centers are among the best on women in Pakistan, and additionally specialise in womens human rights, women in the Muslim world, and women a sustainable development. Materials range from unique news clippings, dating back to 1975, to pamphlets, workshop and conference proceedings, official documents and unpublished reports from around the world, as well as periodicals, information packages, NGO publications, audio-visual materials, and books. Users include a broad cross-section of local and international individuals and institutions, NGOs, human rights groups, students, policy-makers. Development agencies, teaching institutions, and the media.
Extensive publications are produced in English, Urdu and occasionally Sindhi. Publications include original work researched by SG and others, tools for training, awareness and advocacy (guides, manuals, posters, cartoon booklets, etc).
SG regularly publishes:
· Quarterly Newsheets reaching an estimated 20,000 English, and 10,000 Urdu readers;
· Hamara moahol, a bi-monthly wall newspaper focused on environment and health, (5600 recipients reaching some 50,000 people); and
· Bi-annual Special Bulletins.
Additionally, SG collates, where needed translates, and distributes packages of specialised information.