This is the first of three stories told by Pakistani women who have been impacted by the UK government funded Aitebaar program.
“I belong to the conservative Syed family and am the first female from my household to enter professional life. I am also only the second member of my extended family (the first one being a maternal uncle who is an engineer) to enter professional life. It has not been easy though and convincing my family to allow me to work was very difficult.”
“My father initially opposed my decision to study law. My younger brother took it upon himself to convince our father and took upon the responsibility to pick me up and drop me off at school. My father gave in and I earned my law degree going to and from law college with my guardian.”
“My first year as a prosecutor was very challenging. It is a difficult job for anyone in this society, and is particularly difficult for women. I was the first female prosecutor in the Peshawar centre (out of 150 male prosecutors). I was faced with a lot of opposition from home. It was only after the first year that my father began to realise how much this mattered to me. He saw how dedicated I was to my profession and began to show more support. I am proud to say that I am now the primary bread earner for my family.”
“My acceptance at work was mixed. I was warmly accepted by my male prosecutorial colleagues but some senior male lawyers did not accept me in the beginning, owing to me being a female. Acceptance came slowly after a couple of years. I became more confident with time and learned how to handle antagonism and criticism and focused on my work without being deterred.”
“I have recently benefited from several prosecutorial trainings conducted by the UK funded Aitebaar program. These trainings, besides providing me essential skills and techniques related to my profession, have also empowered me with knowledge and communication skills. Aitebaar’s trainings taught me how to effectively structure my arguments so I can convince judges. I also learned how to deal with our senior male prosecutors. I now routinely apply what I learned in those trainings in my work.”
“Trends are changing now regarding the perception of working women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. I was the first female prosecutor when I entered the workforce, but now there are eight others besides myself – which itself indicates how people are slowly becoming more accepting of women entering this challenging field. In fact, there are now more female Assistant Public Prosecutors (APP) in Peshawar’s district courts than male.”
“I think women can contribute positively to bringing about peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I feel women should be provided more awareness about their fundamental rights and should be more involved in the workforce. Education, awareness and professional behavior and confidence can empower women with essential skills, which they can then apply to improve their lives, and the overall living conditions in this province.”
The Aitebaar program works to build citizens’ trust in the state and to bring stability to Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The program is supporting communities and individuals throughout their interaction with the criminal justice process - the police, prosecutions, courts, jirgas, and correctional services. Aitebaar is helping to increase people’s knowledge and awareness of rights and to improve public service delivery within the security and justice sectors. It is also working to ensure that women too have better access to quality justice and security services.
Aitebaar is a UK government program. It is being implemented by Coffey. Learn more about Aitebaar at www.Aitebaar.org.
* Names have been changed.