WOMEN CIVIC REGISTRATION AND POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT
A campaign to support women Computerized National Identity card (CNIC) registration and political education.
The campaign started in 2011 when one of RYWO members during a discussion with local people of District Hattian in AJK learned that there were plenty of women who were excluded from the development process and social benefit schemes due to their weak social status and for not having ID cards. After conducting some preliminary research and bassline survey, it was estimated that roughly 15% of the women in the district who were 18 or older never registered with NADRA, and more than 30% of women cast there vote without there choice. Knowing the fact that the ID cards prevent persons’ recognition and identity loss and empower them as a fully functional citizen, RYWO decided to start a small awareness campaign to aware and empower women by political education and registration with NADRA.
The campaign started from one Union Council of District Hattian Bala where women CNIC registration and political education were deficient due to social norms, lack of awareness, dominant male society, and costly and challenging outreach to NADAR facilitation center. Launch activities included the community mobilization, discussions and distribution, and dissemination of awareness, information, and education material. The process initiated to facilitate the behavioral and cultural change within the community to alter the underlying patterns of social interaction, values, customs, and institutions in ways that will significantly improve the quality of women’s life.
Later in late 2012, under the same initiative, RYWO launched a project with the funding and technical support of the USAID, Aurat Foundation, and the Asia Foundation. The project enabled RYWO to be robust the work by conducting its activities in all three tehsils of the district. The activities included the formation and activation of district and tehsil level networks with the representation of district officers of the education department, literacy department, health department, NADRA, social activists, women’s rights activists z and civil society’s organizations, the formation of village-level mobilization committees, mobilization and sensitization training sessions, political education session, facilitation of NADRA mobile registration camp, provision of transportation to the unregistered women, and delivery of CNIC at their doorstep.
For legal identity in Pakistan, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)
Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) is a fundamental document.
So far, a total of 6,217 women are registered for CNICs in remote and dangerous areas, mostly situated along the Line of Control (LOC) and provided political education. In total registration, 3, 217 women were registered under the Gender Equity Program (GEP), technically and financially supported by the USAID, Aurat Foundation, and The Asia Foundation. Counting the number of men registered and trained brings the figure close to 10,000 people.
This is a huge accomplishment for the RYWO, especially considering that registration activities were often hampered in the LOC area. CNIC registration of women has enabled them to seek financial assistance from the government, apply for bank loans, access health, and education, and exercise their right to vote for the first time. This has enabled RYWO to meet program objectives of empowering women at home, in the workplace and public sphere.
The majority of women in rural areas of Pakistan are deprived of a Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), an essential identity document. CNIC is issued by NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) to Pakistani citizens. CNIC’s in Pakistan are used for voting, opening and operating bank accounts, obtaining a passport, purchasing vehicles and land, obtaining a driver’s license, obtaining a mobile phone SIM card, and obtaining electricity, gas, and water-conducting significant financial transactions. For getting benefitted form any development initiative, having CNIC is one of the primary requirements. In actual it has become a necessity for civic life in Pakistan.
In the struggle of making women inclusive society under RYWO’s initiative, we are proud to share success stories in the words of our beneficiaries.
“At this age, I am unable to bear more as I have already paid a huge cost for not having CNIC. In our culture, women rarely go to school and cast vote, and one of the reasons for this all is poverty” shared Saforah.
” I never thought that I could get my CNIC at the age of 63, and it would be a hassle-free. Now, I am very enthusiastic about casting my first-ever vote in the upcoming elections.”
“CNIC registration could cost us more than PKR 5000 (approx. $45) as we don’t have any CNIC registration center in our tehsil. The cost is equal to the cost of half month groceries, which I didn’t want to lose.”
“I was so demoralized by the response from the officers at NADRA my husband and I decided not to try again as it was a waste of money and effort.”
“Before attending the meeting, I was unaware of the benefits of a CNIC. I applied for the financial aid services of several governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) but never received any assistance due to the non-availability of a CNIC.”