Sixty-four percent of Pakistan’s population is younger than 30 years of age.

[1]

Coupled with continuing insecurity, a lack of opportunities (economic, political and social), pervasive structural inequality and a lack of state accountability, this demographic profile forms the backdrop of the Aawaz II project, which aims for an inclusive, tolerant and peaceful Pakistan with less social exclusion and exploitation. 

 

The Aawaz II programmefunded by Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) UK aims to tackle child labour, early and forced marriage, gender-based violence (GBV) and conflict in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The project works with civil society partners in communities, particularly with vulnerable populations, to reduce exploitation, improve social cohesion, and reduce conflict, social exclusion and exploitation.

 

The programme supports prevention and protection against GBV, conflict, intolerance towards religious minorities, child labour, and forced and early marriages, and reach 2 million direct and 5 million indirect beneficiaries during 2019 - 2024. 17 CSO partners are engaged with the project in 22 districts of KP and Punjab provinces, whereas the project aims to be present in at least 45 districts of both provinces.

 

Aawaz II programming follows an integrated ecosystem approach which keeps young people at the heart of the change itself. Started in March 2020, the programme focuses on young people as Young change agents and offers trainings that will enable youth groups to become change-makers in their communities. Simultaneously, through downstream partners, Aawaz II project has initiated the development of sustainable community fora that help augment and strengthen the voice of the marginalised. The communities will be provided safe spaces and access to referrals and information through Aawaz Aagahi Centres (AACs). The transformative effect of increased awareness and information, and the provision of training, support and linkages will result in a sustainable change within communities. The project also focused on Covid19 impact and pivoted to address the disease’ effects on lives of vulnerable groups including children, young people, women, people with disability and religious minorities as priority groups.

 

Safeguarding The programme recognises the challenges of working with young people, beneficiaries and partners. It has, therefore, ensured that robust safeguarding is built into the programme strategy.

 

 

At the end of its five-year term, Aawaz II will have contributed to reducing the vulnerability of marginalised communities to forms of exploitation, discrimination and exclusion. It would have helped build knowledge, coalitions for change and increased citizen demand for action within its target communities.