Faith inspired Qurbani Programme empowering women in FATA

14352014_1493172474046771_2675828253947412186_oEvery year Islamic Relief carries out a Qurbani programme, delivering slaughtered meat to some of the most deserving families across Pakistan during the sacred days of Eid-ul-adhaa. In 2016, our Qurbani programme was focused on two provinces – Sindh and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In FATA, we distributed Qurbani meat to over 8,300 returnee families in Bara, Khyber agency. Returnee families were displaced for five years, during which time they had lost all sources of livelihood and support, leaving them highly vulnerable.

Islamic Relief Pakistan has also implemented a WASH project in Bara with the support of UNICEF. Working in FATA, our staff has faced numerous challenges due to the conservative tribal culture, making it difficult to ensure the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as women, orphans and disabled persons in the project activities.

In FATA, there has been widespread distrust of NGOs, and thus hesitation of allowing females to participate in projects. However, after the implementation of Islamic Relief’s Qurbani program in Tehsil Bara, Khyber Agency, Islamic Relief acquired a good reputation in the area and people started trusting the organization as fair, unbiased, dignified and faith based.

The beneficiary selection process of the Qurbani program was transparent and the local community was 100% involved for the proper selection of vulnerable people. Community representatives and those receiving Qurbani meat were also invited to the slaughterhouse to witness the entire procedure to ensure its alignment with Sharia requirements. Government Agencies were involved with each step which further strengthened trust among the stakeholders. Excellent quality and efficient distribution of the meat packs was highly appreciated by the line departments and community elders. Multiple appreciation and thanks messages were shared with IR staff on the successful completion of 14435425_1493172030713482_2365213040878377849_oQurbani Programme.

The successful implementation and Baraka of the Qurbani Programme has enabled Islamic Relief to implement further projects in the region. We have managed to include the most marginalized segment of the tribal society – women and disabled people – into projects. Women Village organizations were formed, where women’s voices were heard for the first time in decision making process of development activities. 10 Community Organizations were formed at Hamlet level with approximately ten members each. This means 100 women are now involved at the level of Community Organizations. Furthermore, 2 Village Organizations have been established in two tribes, Kamar Khel and Aka Khel, with a total of 29 members and an executive body of 7. The majority of women involved are aged between 30 and 40, and widows and women who are heading their own households are strongly encouraged to be involved.

These community-based organizations involve women in the process of selecting beneficiaries for projects in the region including the building of latrines, water tanks, and water sources for rehabilitation. There is a strong belief that women are more aware in understanding the water needs for households in tribal areas. Women and girls participated in special events such as World Hand Washing Day and World toiled day under IRP project activities. Hygiene promotion sessions and awareness raising activities were conducted for women.

This involvement of women in decision-making is entirely new for this region, and is a step in the right direction for the empowerment of women and the preservation of their rights in a male-dominated society. For the first time, women are being directly involved in decisions and activities that affect them directly, and their involvement will enhance their position in society.