DASTAK Women Rights and Awareness Foundation (DASTAK Foundation) was initiated as a social media campaign in 2019 to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Pakistan. DASTAK Foundation’s founder (Hira Amjad) envisioned to inform, educate and empower young girls and women to break echo chambers of inequality to reclaim their spaces, bodily autonomy and agency, simultaneously strengthening SGBV prevention through online and in-person programming. DASTAK Foundation, though initiated with a mission to bridge the digital and information gender gap, has evolved into a survivor-led organization working towards a sustainable feminist movement in Pakistan. DASTAK Foundation’s team strategically develops evidence-informed projects aimed at (i) connecting SGBV survivors with essential services in Pakistan, (ii) introducing preventive education within schools, universities, religious seminaries around comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), (iii) transforming norms and behaviours that contribute to SGBV through working with traditional and non-traditional allies (prayer leaders, panchayat leaders etc.) and (iv) indigenising the feminist movement within Pakistan.
Gender Justice trainings using DASTAK Foundation’s tool Waseela, Healing Circles using Meditation and Art Therapy and Violence Prevention Education using the Empowerment Self-defense Methodology to inform educate and empower young girls and women.
AMPLIFY Feminism is DASTAK Foundation’s flagship program that explores several themes under SGBV and SRHR with young girls and women, especially SGBV survivors through leadership and advocacy based fellowships and training programs
Comprehensive Sexuality Education trainings using DASTAK Foundation’s tool Marham at schools, colleges, religious seminaries, alongside Menstrual and Reproductive Health seminars and workshops at educational institutes and at community level.
Marham (SRHR-focused) is a year-long project working to improve sexual and mental health of youth, age 13-18, at religious seminaries in Pakistan through introducing evidence-informed Comprehensive Sexuality Education in the form of a youth friendly educational tool. Marham provides religious seminaries students a platform to listen and express their understanding, their needs and experiences on aspects of sexuality through inclusive healing circles. The project has engaged 15 religious seminaries and 1000 students (male/female) in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad since the initiation in January 2023.
#AMPLIFYFeminism is DASTAK Foundation’s flagship project aimed at breaking echo chambers of inequality, indigenising feminism to Pakistan’s socio-cultural contexts and engaging young girls and women (particularly survivors of sexual and gender-based violence) through leadership and advocacy-based programs. #AMPLIFYFeminism program beneficiaries receive skills and tools to build movements and community resilience to strengthen SGBV prevention, advance SRHR and gender equality. The program has (thus far) engaged 100 young girls (13-18) through AMPLIFY Feminism Leadership training in Chitral and Ghizer (2022-2023).
Marham (SGBV-focused) is a project of DASTAK Foundation that directly works with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The project incorporates carefully and strategically designed workshops aspiring to curate spaces of learning, healing and change for SGBV survivors. Marham also incorporates the traditional practices of dharma and healing through inclusion of trauma-informed healers and therapists. The project has (thus far) organised 5 Healing Circles and Art Therapy Workshops with 100 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the twin cities (Rawalpindi and Islamabad) and the surrounding villages.
Waseela, a project of DASTAK Foundation (2022), is at the intersection of technology and SGBV prevention. Waseela has been carefully designed to accelerate the reporting of sexual and gender-based violence cases in Pakistan. The platform connects the survivors with essential services (legal, psychological and shelter support) in the country. It is also expanding the conversation around SGBV through providing survivors an opportunity to share their stories. DASTAK Foundation’s founder (Hira Amjad) won the Human Rights Award from Geneva Center for Human Rights and Global Dialogue for the development of Waseela.
Uraan, an Urdu word, can be paraphrased as ‘the feeling of being safe and free’. DASTAK Foundation strongly believes that, in order to eradicate SGBV (particularly Street Harassment, experienced at least once by every Pakistani women) we have to empower women (psychologically and physically) and create safe spaces for them to learn best international practices related to violence prevention education. Therefore, we conduct Empowerment Self-defense (ESD) workshops to equip young girls with knowledge and skills to protect themselves from harassment, abuse and violence. Uraan has empowered 5000 young girls and women since 2019.
LEAP تعلیم ماہواری
Learning Engagement and Activism for Period Education (LEAP) (2022) is an on-going training program of DASTAK Foundation to eradicate period poverty through organising training and capacity building programs for young girls, young boys and women/men at community level. LEAP includes extensive Taleem-e-Mahwaari workshops for young girls aimed at educating them regarding menstrual health and hygiene management (MHM) and young boys to educate them about their role as allies at household and community level. DASTAK Foundation launched a petition to push for menstrual leaves at organisations in 2021, sign it and become part of the change.
IBTADA (2020) is a visual media campaign launched from the platform of DASTAK Foundation in 2021. The campaign was launched with a goal to expand the conversation around sexual and gender-based violence prevention using visual media (short films, animations and documentaries). DASTAK Foundation produced 6 short films and 4 animations on subjects such as Street Harassment, Cyber Harassment, Workplace Harassment, Rape, Property Rights, Domestic Violence, ‘How Men can Act as Allies to Prevent SGBV’ and ‘How to Support Survivors of Violence’. The films have received national and international recognition and have been used throughout our programming.
TABEER (2021) is an on-going digital media advocacy initiative of DASTAK Foundation. DASTAK Foundation’s social media platforms observed a spike in reports of SGBV cases during COVID-19. Therefore, TABEER Network was envisioned during the shadow pandemic to advocate the use of digital technology to support SGBV survivors across South Asia. TABEER was launched on International Women’s Day 2021 (in collaboration with eight organizations from South Asia) to accelerate SGBV reporting. TABEER Symposium was held the same year (2021) during 16 Days of Activism to discuss SGBV prevention with 20 experts from 6 countries.
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