The Enabling Environment for Minorities to Participate in Electoral and Political Processes in Pakistan project aims to empower minority citizens to vote by building the capacity of minority parliamentarians to better represent members of their communities and to support newly nominated youth and minority councillors in local government to address issues faced by minorities at the grassroots level. The project will target 5 districts across Punjab with high concentrations of minority areas. These include Lahore, Faisalabad, Nankana Sahib, Chiniot and Khanewal. Village Action Groups (VAGs) and District Action Groups (DAGs) will be mobilized in 10 villages/municipal centers in each district. These groups will include influential members from within the communities who have the ability to mobilize minority communities within their area and motivate them to vote. Each VAG will include at least 30 percent women in order to reach out to the female minority population in the area since minority women face multiple levels of marginalization in the selected districts, the majority of which have poor HDI.
Under a previous initiative, TAF established Religious Freedom Caucuses (RFCs) in the Punjab, Sindh, and National assemblies that brought together 68 parliamentarians across religious, gender, and political divides. RFCs generated high-level policy debate on critical issues such as hate crimes, misrepresentation of religious communities in educational materials, and gaps in family law for minorities. In nine months, eleven bills and seven resolutions were pushed by the RFCs. TAF will reactivate these RFCs in the three assemblies. TAF will facilitate six trainings, two each with provincial RFCs in Sindh and Punjab and two with the RFC in the National Assembly to prepare legislators to highlight issues relating to minority rights.
The goal of the project is to increase the participation of minority groups in electoral and political processes. To this end the project is designed around the following three objectives:
- Build the capacity of minority parliamentarians to better represent their constituencies
- Empower religious minorities to exercise their right to vote in the 2018 federal elections
- Build the capacity of youth councillors in districts with significant religious minority populations to alleviate the hardships of religious minorities
In this project we would
- Provide technical support to Parliamentarians to raise minority issues
- Organize meetings between youth/minority councillors and RFC members
- Form village and district action groups
- Conduct civic education trainings for the District Action Groups
- Organize meetings with community members
- Facilitate camps for CNIC and voter registration
- Facilitate meetings between Village Action Groups and youth/minority councillors
- Organize multi-stakeholder seminars at the district and provincial levels on minority issues and electoral reforms