Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Integrating FATA

I am quite excited about the proposed amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan to bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into mainstream by making amendments in Article 1, 246 and 247 of the Constitution. The proposed 22nd Constitutional Amendment Bill, no doubt, is the step in the right direction however, there is definitely a need to ensure a thorough consultative process with all the key stakeholders so that this important amendment is thoroughly reviewed and enjoy the support of every quarter of the society and state. On May 1, 2015, the FATA Reforms Commission (FRC) established by the Governor KP, submitted its recommendations to the government. The FRC had consultations with different stakeholders however; there is still a feeling that more widespread consultations are required.

There is no second opinion that Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) 1901 is against all basic norms and standards of human rights and is rightly being called a black law by the rights groups globally. It was a long standing demand of the civil society that in order to be able to bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into mainstream, the FCR would have to be abolished and reforms will need to be introduced in FATA through amendments in Article 1, 246 and 247 of the Constitution.

In August 2011, the then President Asef Ali Zardari introduced the Frontier Crimes (Amendment) Regulation 2011. The nation was informed that major changes have been made in FCR and now children below 16, women and elderly will not be arrested under the collective responsibility clause of the FCR and there will be a right to appeal against the judgements of the political agents. While going through the Frontier Crimes (Amendment) Regulation 2011 one comes to the conclusion that there is no major change in the FCR and that this is high time that the notorious FCR is repealed altogether under the proposed 22nd Constitutional Amendment Bill. Similarly, the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation 2011 with more stringent and inhuman sentences and procedures in complete violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution and the international human rights laws should be repealed as well.

Earlier a great opportunity of bringing FATA into mainstream was missed by ignoring this important task in the historic 18th Constitutional Amendment. When the parliamentary committee was established for framing 18th constitutional amendment, FATA reforms were part of its terms of reference and there was representation from FATA as well. Surprisingly however, there was no amendment in the 18th Constitutional Amendment Act 2010 related to FATA.

In the presence of the Article 247 of the constitution the people of FATA are not the full citizens of Pakistan. Article 1 needs to be amended in order to give FATA the status of a full federating unit by declaring it a part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or giving it the status of a separate province in accordance with the right to self-determination of the people of FATA.

Article 1 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, describes FATA as a part of Pakistan and Article 247 describes the manner in which the area is to be administered. “Under Article 247 (3), no act of Parliament is applicable to FATA or any part thereof unless the President of Pakistan so directs. The Governor of [KP] acts as the ‘agent’ to the President of Pakistan” but under Article 247 (7), the tribal areas are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the High Court of [KP] until Parliament makes law in this regard however, the parliament is not fully authorized to do so.

A politician from FATA recently, while speaking in Television talk show, said that what good will it bring to FATA if the jurisdiction of the Superior Courts is extended as it take ages to decide cases in the Superior Courts of Pakistan. I think it’s a lame excuse and the role of Superior Courts is not only to provide justice in routine criminal or civil cases but also ensuring the enforcement of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution in accordance with Article 199 (14) and 184 (3) & (5) about the enforcement of fundamental human rights. Not a single human rights provision in the Constitution is possible to be applied to FATA without amendment in Article 247 of the Constitution.

This is unfortunate that despite repeated commitments, the successive governments have failed to bring FATA into mainstream and ensure the people of FATA their rights enshrined in the Constitution and in accordance with Pakistan’s international obligations being party to the international bill of rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified on April 17, 2008, and other important human rights treaties such as the Convention Against Torture, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) etc.

The president, the government and above all the parliament should look into the FATA reforms issue in light of the demands of the people of FATA and Pakistan’s international obligations and should recommit themselves to bringing genuine reforms in accordance with the wishes of the people of the FATA. Amendments shall be made in Article 1, 246 and 247 of the Constitution not only to bring FATA into mainstream but also to ensure protection of the fundamental rights of the people of FATA. Similarly, jurisdiction of the superior courts should be extended and the Parliament shall be empowered to legislate for FATA and all relevant laws of the country shall be applicable to FATA without any condition of extension by the president.

The writer is a human rights activist and development practitioner with a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics (LSE) and tweets at @amahmood72

This article was published in Express Tribune on October 02, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

The taxation system and child rights

Pakistan is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), under which it is obliged to pass effective legislation to curtail tax evasion and to ensure well-equipped tax authorities. It is the international community’s obligation to ensure countries know who is evading taxes and how tax revenue is spent. The Convention stipulates that “ineffective taxation systems, corruption and mismanagement of government revenues can limit the resources available for the fulfilment of children’s rights … States should … implement effective laws and regulations to obtain and manage revenue flows from all sources, ensuring transparency, accountability and equity.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the UNCRC’s ratification by Pakistan — the first Muslim state and sixth country in the world to do so. The 25th anniversary provides a welcome reflection point to assess how successful we have been in upholding its principles. All reports show that child health, education, protection and participation is getting worse in the country. One of the major reasons is poor budgetary allocations for child rights. Progressive laws cannot be effectively implemented without monetary support. Article 25-A of the Constitution mandates the government to provide education to all children between five and 16 years of age. How can this requirement be fulfilled without monetary support? Similarly, if the National Education Policy 2009 commits to increase budgetary allocation for education to seven per cent of GDP by 2015 without any progress on this whatsoever, how can we expect to achieve our education targets? Currently, the budgetary allocation for education is 2.1 per cent of GDP, one of the lowest in the region. The reason for this is the tax-to-GDP ratio in Pakistan, which stands at 9.4 per cent, low even amongst developing countries.

While speaking at a seminar on the importance of education, the minister of state for education said that “the percentage of GDP spent on education is half of what it should be by international standards, but increasing the percentage is incredibly challenging in Pakistan”. In an interesting move, instead of increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio, the government is planning to make revisions in the National Education Policy and reduce the target of increase in education budget from seven per cent of GDP to four per cent of GDP as the former stipulation has been declared ‘irrational’.

We are also set to fail in achieving Millennium Development Goals of the reduction of the mortality rate of children under the age of five and reduction of maternal mortality. When a child is born, his or her chance of survival is increased significantly if there is a trained health worker present. In Pakistan, only around 50 per cent of births are attended by a trained birth attendant, according to Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13. Malnutrition rates are high among women and children, and the coverage of front line health workers, like lady health workers (LHW), is limited and requires a considerable increase. What we see instead is LHWs running from pillar to post in order to get their salaries and often boycott their duties because of budgetary issues.

To be able to ensure the right to health and survival for all in Pakistan, the government is required to increase the budgetary allocation for health, which currently stands at a mere 0.6 per cent of GDP. This is despite claims by almost all political parties in their manifestos that they will raise the health budget to at least two per cent of GDP. One of the major causes of this failure is the lack of financial resources for the purpose. Again, funds obtained through taxation are the most sustainable source of finance for the kinds of services that will help children survive and thrive.

It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s ability to collect taxes has shown a decline or has been stagnant during the last decade because the tax-to-GDP ratio has never exceeded the 10.3 per cent level achieved back in 2002. We cannot keep shying away from our responsibility to improve the tax-to-GDP ratio as without doing this the government will not be able to spend on the social sector. It is important that the provinces also focus on increasing their revenues so that they can spend more on health, nutrition, education and child protection. For this purpose, the capacity of the tax collection system will also require a complete overhaul. To ensure the realisation of the rights of all, there is no option but to focus on increasing our revenues. Reformation of the tax structure should be our number one priority.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd,  2015.
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Now or never

The horrific Kasur scandal reminds us as a nation that an ostrich approach to child sexual abuse is not going to work anymore. Both society and the government should accept that child abuse is a reality and that effective steps need to be taken to prevent it. The growing number of child sexual abuse cases in Pakistan and the Kasur scandal in particular, demand that federal and provincial governments prioritise the protection of children.
Civil society’s repeated attempts at highlighting child protection have never been taken seriously. Sahil, a national NGO working on child sexual abuse, reported 3,508 cases in 2014 — just the tip of the iceberg. Fifty-six per cent of these cases were reported from Punjab, with Kasur among the top 10 districts where most cases were reported. Sahil’s data further reveals that 445 cases have been reported in Kasur from 2012 to 2014.

Despite such reports being released annually, the overall state of the child protection infrastructure has never been a priority for successive governments and the current federal and provincial authorities are no exception. At present, only two provinces have child protection-specific legislation. There is the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010 and the Sindh Child Protection Act 2011. The Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act 2004 is quite limited and does not cover child protection issues comprehensively. Balochistan, the Islamabad Capital Territory, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata have no child protection-specific legislation. This shows that there is a need to immediately introduce comprehensive child protection legislation across all federating units.

The federal government needs to enact the long-pending National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill 2015 and the Child Protection (Criminal Laws) Amendment Bill 2015. The Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2015 should include maximum punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, remission or pardon for paedophilia, rape and gang-rape convicts. Pakistan is already party to various international treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Option Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Pornography, which bind it to legislate in accordance with these treaties.
The Punjab government should immediately approve the long-awaited Punjab Child Protection Policy and enact comprehensive legislation on the pattern of K-P Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010. It is also important to note that the Punjab Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, commonly misunderstood for a comprehensive child protection body, is limited to working for the welfare of destitute and neglected children only. There is a need to establish child protection systems across all districts of the province and this will be impossible without making sufficient budgetary allocations.
Child protection systems are made up of a set of components that if properly coordinated, can work together to strengthen the protective environment around each child. These components include a strong legal and policy framework for child protection, adequate budget allocations, multi-sectoral coordination, child-friendly preventive and responsive services, a child protection, oversight and regulation workforce, and data on child protection issues.

Awareness regarding how to protect oneself from abuse should be included in school curricula in a culturally sensitive manner. The media can play a vital role in fostering coordination with civil society and the government, which can create widespread awareness. Media organisations should ideally be allocating at least five per cent of their budgets for such initiatives, which can form the core of their corporate social responsibility function. Culturally and religiously appropriate material on the subject can be produced. Media in most countries have youth and children focused channels which are missing in Pakistan. Furthermore, schools can also play a major role in spreading awareness about child rights in general and child sexual abuse in particular.
There is a general feeling in Pakistan that we have failed our children. If we don’t take the current situation seriously and respond accordingly, we will never be able to protect our children.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th,  2015.
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Child rights in Pakistan: An unfinished agenda

We keep hearing about and reading frightening media reports regarding the plight of children in the country on a daily basis, like 70,000-plus first-day deaths occurring in Pakistan, 352,000 children dying of preventable causes before their fifth birthday each year, 45 per cent of under-five deaths directly being linked to under-nutrition among children and their mothers, 44 per cent children being malnourished, declining rates of exclusive breastfeeding for six-month-old babies, nearly seven million children of primary school-going age being out of school with high gender disparity in education at all levels, nearly 1.5 million children living and/or working on the streets, and approximately 10 million children being involved in child labour.

The Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000 is poorly implemented and there is no effective child protection system in place in any part of the country. Several bills related to child rights are pending at the national and provincial levels, including the Balochistan Child Protection and Welfare Bill, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill and the K-P Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Bill, the Punjab Child Marriages Restraint Bill, as well as several bills at the federal level, including the Child Marriages Restraint (Amendment) Bill, the National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill, the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill and the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill to name a few. The laws that have been passed have seen little implementation, resulting in there being no visible impact on the situation of children in the country. There has been little or no budgetary allocation for the various laws that have been passed in our provincial assemblies related to child rights.
Moreover, the Concluding Observations and Recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Periodic Review Recommendations have never been implemented in letter and in spirit. One of the reasons for no follow-up on these international commitments is that there is no national-level body with statutory status to ensure effective implementation of Pakistan’s national and international obligations. Pakistan was the sixth country in the world to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990 following its adoption by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989. Every year, on November 20, the Universal Children’s Day is observed, with 2014 being the 25th anniversary of the passing of the UNCRC. Unfortunately, however, there seems to be little cause for celebration in this regard in Pakistan as there has been little implementation of the UNCRC.

Pakistan has failed to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDG), including MDG-4, which refers to a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate, which currently stands at 87 per 1,000 live births. There is also the problem of poor vaccination rates for children due to a weak routine immunisation system and growing violence against them, among various other serious issues afflicting child rights in the country.

There is a need to effectively build pressure on the federal and provincial governments by involving children, civil society, media and other relevant stakeholders to push them into taking steps for improving the situation of children and fulfilling Pakistan’s national and international obligations. Following the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, the task of preserving child rights has been devolved to the provinces. There is an opportunity to engage more with provincial governments in order to push for the realisation of the rights of the child in Pakistan. While provinces have enacted laws and policies central to improve the state of child rights, unfortunately, implementation remains a key concern.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
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Child Rights: A neglected priority in Punjab

Child rights have never been a priority for any federal or provincial government in Pakistan and the current government of Punjab is no exception. There has been no major legislation enacted concerning child rights in Punjab in the past six years except the adoption of the Punjab Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition (Amendment) Act 2012 and the Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011 without any changes despite advocacy campaigns by the civil society to increase minimum age for entering into child labour in light of the newly inducted Article 25 A, which makes education a fundamental right for children from 5 to 16 years of age, in the constitution following 18th Constitutional Amendment and notifying child domestic labour under the schedule of banned occupations of the Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011.

Furthermore, Pakistan has ratified the ILO Convention No. 138 concerning minimum age where minimum age for entering into employment is 15 years. Contrary to this there is no minimum age for entering into employment in Pakistan while the Employment of Children Act prohibits child labour in certain hazardous occupations for children below 14 years. In light of Article 25-A of the Constitution, child labour which hinders a child’s right to education is in violation of the constitution and thus requires the federal and provincial governments to raise minimum age for entering into employment to 16 years. The provincial assembly however, didn’t appreciate this constitutional provision while adopting the Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011.  

Punjab proved to be a hell for child domestic workers as media reported more than 50 cases of severe torture against child domestic workers including 29 cases of torture to death of child domestic workers starting from Shazia Masih’s tragic murder in January 2010. More than five cases of torture to death of child domestic workers have already been reported in 2014 from Lahore. Child domestic workers were tortured to death from across Punjab majority of them girls. This is high time that the provincial government, responding to the recommendations of the civil society, put child domestic labour under the schedule of banned occupations of the Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011.

Punjab was ahead of other provinces in the last decade by enacting legislation on child protection and constituting child protection and welfare bureaus for the destitute and neglected children. The scope of the Destitute and Neglected Children Act is limited to destitute and neglected children only as evident from its name and the law fails to put in place a comprehensive child protection system in the Province to respond to all child rights and protection issues including child marriages, corporal punishment, internal trafficking of children and child labour etc. As a result of little or no focus on child rights and child protection in the province, it remained a neglected area and no proper child protection system could be established in the province home to almost 50 per cent of the country’s children.

Following the 18th Constitutional Amendment in 2010, child rights have become a provincial subject however, there is no body with a statutory status in Punjab to take care of this huge responsibility and ensure that child rights are protected and promoted in the province. The Child Rights Movement (CRM) Punjab launched an advocacy campaign for establishing a Provincial Commission on the Rights of the Child (PCRC). It was heartening to listen to Ms. Saba Sadiq, Chairperson of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau during a workshop for members of the Punjab Assembly on Child Rights who was all for establishing the Punjab Commission on the Rights of the Child through an Act of the Punjab Assembly. She also spoke about her commitment to ensure that there is an endowment fund for children in Punjab where children in need are supported together with linking parents of such children with social safety nets.

Punjab is also home to approximately 6 million out of school children and require to take serious steps not only to legislate in accordance with Article 25-A of the Constitution whereby education has been made a fundamental right for children five to sixteen years of age but also respond to the poor conditions in government schools across the province. A Commission was notified to prepare a bill for the implementation of Article 25 A in the province through a consultative process which was a commendable step. The Commission successfully achieved the target and submitted a draft bill to the provincial government in October 2012. The Government of Punjab promulgated the Punjab Right to Free and Compulsory Education Ordinance 2014 and in June this Ordinance was extended for another three months. There is a need however, to fulfil this constitutional amendment immediately and enact an Act instead of extending the Ordinance after every three months besides allocation of sufficient financial resources to ensure its implementation.

Health is another area which requires serious attention of the government of Punjab. Nearly 40% of the province’s children under age 5 are nutritionally stunted (39.2%).  The prevalence of underweight children is 29.8%, while wasting prevalence is 13.7%. Micronutrient deficiencies in Punjab are serious. Vitamin A deficiency which jeopardizes the maintenance of primary functions including eyesight and seriously reduces immune function; leaving the body more susceptible to infection, affects 41.8% of women and 51.0% of children of the province.

The high levels of malnutrition are consistent with high rates of infant and maternal mortality. The infant mortality rate in Punjab is 74 per 1000 live births while the target for achieving MDG 4 is to reduce it to 40 per 1000 live births by December 2015. Similarly, the Under 5 mortality rate is 89 per 1000 live births while the MDG 4 target is to reduce it to 52 per 1000 live births. Maternal mortality in the province is 227 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, higher than that of India, Sri Lanka and Yemen.

Frontline health workers like Lady Health Workers (LHWs), Community Midwives (CMWs) and Vaccinators have a pivotal role to play in improving the above mentioned health indicators of the province however, following the 18th Constitutional Amendment and devolution of vertical programmes like the Family Planning and Primary Health Care Programme, the situation is challenging and particularly with reference to LHWs. The LHWs were regularized by the previous federal government upon Supreme Courts intervention with a stringent condition however i.e. the posts that may become vacant as a result of resignation, losing jobs or otherwise shall stand abolished for the purpose of federal funding and new recruitment with effect from July 01, 2011 will be financed by the provincial governments. This condition resulted in decrease in the number of LHWs instead of increasing their numbers and in Punjab the number LHWs decreased from 49,000 to 47,300.

The Government of Punjab should respond to the situation by recruiting more LHWs from its own resources and making budgetary allocations for necessary supplies to reach to the uncovered areas of the Province to progress towards improving its mother and child health indicators. Similarly, the Punjab governments should also take responsibility and start allocating resources for increase in the number of LHWs, CMWs and vaccinators in the to be able to reach out to 100% population and achieve mother and child health related targets.

The Punjab Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition (Amendment) Act 2012 was enacted and recently an Infant Feeding Board has been notified to ensure its implementation. The Government of Punjab should immediately notify rules under the Breastfeeding Act of 2012 to ensure effective implementation of the law. Similarly, the Provincial Government should also approve the Draft Inter Sectoral Nutrition Strategy to respond to the issue of under nutrition in an integrated manner.

The writer is a child rights activist and development practitioner with a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics (LSE) and tweets at @amahmood72

This article was published in Express Tribune

Being a child in Islamabad

Recently there was a news story in Express Tribune about poor child health statistics in Islamabad as per the findings of the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2013. The story created a debate on social media and I was also approached by friends and colleagues about the state of child rights in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and Pakistan’s very well planned and resourceful capital. It is quite understandable that people got worried that if the health or overall child rights indicators are poor in Pakistan’s capital then what will be the situation in rest of the country or particularly the far flung areas?

In 2010, a National Steering Committee on Child Rights was established under the Ombudsmen to monitor the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Children 2006 and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the country. Being a civil society representative on the Committee, I recommended to the Honorable Ombudsman to begin with Islamabad and see what is the state of implementation of children related laws and policies in Islamabad which will give us a very good picture of the situation of the country.

If we begin with children’s right to survival and health, the PDHS 2013 reveals that children under five in the ICT are severely malnourished as 22 per cent of them are stunted, 13 per cent are wasted and 14 per cent are under weight.  Meanwhile just 74 per cent aged 12-23 months are fully vaccinated as against 80 per cent immunisation coverage recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

While having a look at children’s right to education, there is one positive development and that is the enactment of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2012 by the National Assembly in accordance with Article 25-A of the Constitution about right to education for children 5 to 16 years of age. The issue however, is that no practical steps have been taken to effectively implement this law and that is why its fate seems to be no different from the Federally Administered Areas Right to Compulsory Education Ordinance 2002. According to a recent report, approximately 65,000 children of the school going age are not going to schools in Islamabad.

There is no child protection system in the ICT which has exposed the children of the ICT to various hazards including their exploitation in the worst forms of child labour, use of children for begging and various other forms of child abuse. The number of children living and or working on the streets has witnessed at surge in the recent past. The Child Protection and Welfare Bill 2014 is being discussed these days to put in place a proper child protection system in the ICT. Fingers crossed.

We recently commemorated the International Child Labour Day where the theme for this year was right to free and compulsory education and social protection. According to various non-governmental sources, the number children involved in child labour is approximately one million in the country and no visible improvements have been witnessed in the elimination of child labour. I also believe that it may not be possible to eliminate child labour only through legislation and there is a need to focus more on implementation of the free and compulsory education laws and increased budgetary allocations for quality education together with social protection schemes for children involved in labour and girls to ensure that they get to schools. There is a schedule of the banned occupations for children under the Employment of Children Act 1991 which require strict implementation. Furthermore, banning child domestic labour is also really important as it has proved to be one of the worst forms of child labour in Pakistan and in the ICT where a number of cases of the torture to death of child domestic workers have been reported. 

Like health, education, child labour and child protection, juvenile Justice is another area which requires special attention at the ICT level. July 01, 2014 will mark 14th anniversary of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000; a landmark legislation on juvenile justice in Pakistan. Unfortunately however, despite various strengths, the law could not be implemented in letter and spirit due to various reasons including absence of necessary budgetary allocation etc. In order for the JJSO to be implemented, the federal government is required to allocate funds for the provision of legal assistance to children at State’s expense, establish an Exclusive Juvenile Court and appoint at least one male and one female probation officer for the ICT besides establishing a Borstal Institution. There is also a need for real steps for effective implementation of the provisions of the JJSO in FATA as the law has already been extended there in 2004. 

The writer is child rights activist and development practitioner with a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics (LSE)

This article was published in Daily Times 


Sunday, February 23, 2014

EVERY ONE in Pakistan: A glance at 2013

In 2013, the EVERY ONE Campaign really increased its reach and impact in Pakistan. We saw many successes such as the introduction of laws on breastfeeding, meaning that mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed their children for first six months of child life. The laws prohibits the promotion of any milk produced as partial or total replacement for mother’s milk or represented as a complement to mother’s milk to meet the growing nutritional needs of an infant.

Using TV talk shows, radio programmes and street theatre, we engaged the public on issues such as malnutrition, and the importance of health workers and immunisation. We produced a documentary on nutrition, which was shown on 2 national and 18 cable channels across Pakistan. We also hosted television talk shows with speakers from the federal and provincial governments, policy makers, experts including GAVI, campaign ambassadors and civil society organizations. The Ministers of Health from Balochistan and  KP also participated in these talk shows, where we discussed malnutrition, immunization and health workers and how these issues impact women and children. Through TV and radio commercials, a radio drama and short stories, we reached 11 million people with our messages.

In all four provinces, we worked with local actors who performed street theatre, informing the public about malnutrition, importance of health workers and immunization. Total 28,399 people including 16,280 male and 12,119 females were reached through street theatre performances.

Early in the year we launched the ‘Super food for babies’ report in a consultation where government, civil society and parliamentarians were present.

The launch was an opportunity to increase the advocacy around breastfeeding in Pakistan. At the event, Dr Sania Nishtar, the President and Founder of Heart file said that breast milk is not only free but also provides the best protection for infants to fight common diseases and prevent stunting. She committed to take forward the findings of the Save the Children’s Breastfeeding Report and stressed on the need for implementing the breastfeeding legislation in line with the International Code for Breastfeeding Violations Letters were sent to the Chief Ministers in all four provinces and the Minister for Health at the federal level, for effective steps for the implementation of the breastfeeding laws. The research report “Breastfeeding: A roadmap to promotion and protection” and a documentary on breastfeeding were launched in a National Conference on Breastfeeding in Islamabad with representation from all the four provinces from civil society, Government, UN agencies and media. Maiza Hameed Gujjar MNA (Member National Assembly), assured Save the Children she would play her role for the implementation of Breastfeeding laws at the national and Punjab level. Mr. Shaukat Yousafzai, Minister for Health Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) announced that the Provincial Government is soon going to enact the KP Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Bill. Similarly Mr. Bugti Head of Nutrition Cell Government of Balochistan said that the Balochistan Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding Bill will be placed before the Provincial Assembly for enactment in its coming session. The immediate result was notification of the Infant Feeding Board at the Federal level within a week.

Another major step towards highlighting the situation of under nutrition in Pakistan was the launch of the Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, on 21st August 2013. Dr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutta was one of the key note speakers. The launch was covered by some of the leading newspapers of the country covered, while Express Tribune also did an editorial the very next day.

Throughout the year we have been regularly collaborating with the Development Partners for Nutrition (DPN), including national consultation on “The Role of Private Sector in Addressing Malnutrition in Pakistan” and five media roundtable discussions to engage media in highlighting the issue of malnutrition. This resulted in several contributions by media persons in leading English and Urdu newspapers. We also organized Multi-stakeholders’ workshops in Lahore & Quetta to accelerate the implementation of the UN Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) Strategy in Pakistan. To gather more support around the issue of malnutrition a number of sessions were organized at Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta with human rights organizations. Our aim was to increase understanding and knowledge of nutrition which will ultimately lead to improved nutrition advocacy initiatives by civil society organizations.

During the measles outbreak in Sindh and Punjab, we worked together with Child Rights Movement, to write letters to the provincial chief ministers and advocate for strengthening routine immunization. Around the same time, the EVERY ONE Campaign was made part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial communication Technical Committee on Immunization. We also supported the midterm and annual review of the Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which resulted in the inclusion of training for Lady Health Workers in the EPI manual.

Our engagements with the Technical Advisory Group continued throughout the year, where we regularly reviewed the mother and child health situation in each province. For the first time in Pakistan, the EVERY ONE Campaign engaged the Parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition parties on the country’s achievement of MDG 4 and related issues of under nutrition in Pakistan, strengthening routine immunization and increasing the number of Lady Health Workers and Community Midwives.

The EVERY ONE Campaign also worked with 1,564 children from 12 children’s clubs at Muzaffargarh in Punjab and 62 children clubs of Sanghar in Sindh and educated them on the importance of immunization, nutrition and lady health workers. As part of engaging children in the campaign, we held a press conference with the Children group on Universal Children’s Day. During the press conference, children highlight the health and education related issues. The call for attention was that it is due time that the government took a proactive lead to change the lives of these children. The press conference got coverage by one of the leading English newspaper along with some Urdu papers.
Last year we focused on educating journalists around health reporting. We collaborated with MIISHAL (Media Agency) to identify 20 potential journalists from across Pakistan to train them on the situation of under nutrition among children and women in the country, its link with the under 5 mortality and the role of media. The training was followed by field visits to the various health facilities in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  This training resulted in significantly more media coverage on malnutrition. To appreciate the efforts of the journalists, the EVERY ONE Campaign collaborated with Agahi Awards to award the best journalists in the health category.

The EVERYONE Campaign will continue to build on the momentum created in 2013 and strive for achieving results in 2014. We’ve begun 2014 with provincial consultation on Every Newborn Action Plan consultations in collaboration with UNICEF. We are going to launch “Ending Newborn Deaths” report in Islamabad involving the federal and provincial governments, civil society and media. We’ll hold Health Workers Awards with a focus on Lady Health Workers and Community Midwives and will launch our documentary on health workers during the week involving high level provincial government officials with a focus on increase in the number of LHWs and CMWs. The EVERYONE Campaign is in the final stages of producing a documentary on immunization which will be launched during the immunization week. We are also working on a research together with the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) about the causes of poor immunization in low performing districts of Punjab. Findings of the research will be used during the immunization week and later for advocacy to strengthen routine immunization. Together with DPN we are working to establish the SUN CSOs network. We’ll continue with our advocacy for provincial inter sectoral strategies and budgetary allocation for nutrition and continue to follow up on the implementation of the breastfeeding code. The State of the World’s Mothers report will be launched, breastfeeding week will be celebrated and a national research about newborns will be conducted and launched during the year. We’ll continue to engage with Private Sector at provincial level. We’ll continue to engage with key stakeholders including children, parliamentarians, DPN, civil society, media and government.