Advancing gender equality and empowering girls in Pakistan

A dynamic and creative social behavior change program using theater, film, radio and community leadership initiatives, to advance women and girls' rights across Pakistan.

Pakistan, In Partnership with Global Peace and Security Fund

After attending this Hujra arranged by EAI, we will not simply talk about women’s rights and women’s education, but we will take practical steps to support and promote girls’ education and women’s empowerment. This will defeat the mindset that girls’ education is not important.”

-Hujra participant


Working with the Global Peace & Security Fund (GPSF), the goal of this project was to shift knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about women’s rights within the context of Islam. The program reached millions of people in FATA and KP, in addition to tens of thousands of individuals through outreach and engagement activities. Amplified through the radio program Step by Step (Kadam pa Kadam), EAI carefully designed advocacy and awareness activities that included multimedia and direct community engagement on international and national advocacy days such as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, Human Rights Day, and National Women’s Day. To maximize impact and reach, EAI worked with local partners including the FATA Youth Forum and Step Towards Empowerment of People.


Hujra Gatherings: Five Hujra Gatherings were successfully organized by the EAI team in the communities of Khyber Agency, Kurram Agency, District Upper Dir, District Bunir, and District Swat with the purpose of utilizing the traditional Jirga system to increase public understanding of women’s empowerment, social harmony, human rights, and girls’ education.

Mobile Theater Performances: Five Mobile Theater Performances were successfully staged at Bacha Khan University Charsadda, Tameer e Watan School and College for Girls Mandian Hazara, Government Postgraduate College Abbottabad, Jinnah Degree College of Commerce Mansehra, and Comsats University of Information Technology Abbottabad. The title of the play performed was Bawar, which means trust. The play addressed the pervading cultural norms oppressing women and girls by keeping them housebound, illiterate, and unable to participate in public life. Only with this control do men “trust” their daughters and wives. The play exposed this contradiction.

The staged dramas were written by renowned Pashto writer, Mr. Noor Ul Basher Naveed, who adjusted the plots to reflect local needs and circumstances based on the geographic location of the performances. One important achievement of our EAI local team was the Urdu language mobile theater performances that were organized for participants who belong to the Hazara belt, where most only understand the Urdu language.

Sports Galas: Five sports galas were organized in District Swat, Comsats University Abbottabad, Malakand Agency, Mansahra, and Khurram agency FATA to engage youth in positive discussion and activities around women’s rights, the role of women in society, and the negative impact of violence against women and girls. The sports galas were popular with the children, teachers, and school staff.

Listening Discussion Groups (LDGs): All of the listening group members actively participated in the meetings and openly discussed often uncomfortbable topics identified by members, which included: 

  1. Women’s rights in Islam
  2. Youth in national development
  3. Right to education and health facilities for girls
  4. Dowry – its positive and negative implications and economic impacts on society
  5. Entrepreneurship and small business management for self-reliance
  6. Women and higher education
  7. Women’s role in national politics

Television Film: After attacks by militants on Bacha Khan University, all universities were closed for security issues. EAI quickly pivoted our community engagement method from street theater to film. It was a safer and more effective to communicate the concepts through a dynamic television special.  The team wrote and produced a 60-minute television film with the same title, Bawar. The film was broadcast on select television networks including AVT Khyber TV, Pashtu 1TV, Sabawar HD, and Afghan TV in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and KP province, reaching an estimated 30 million households. The film was posted on Facebook and YouTube, and the trailer has been watched over 30,000 times via different social media platforms.

Impact & Reach of this Project

152+ Thousand

people reached with audio push messages on women's empowerment and girls' education

30 Million

audience reached via radio broadcasts

30+ Thousand

viewers accessed the TV film via social media

Tele Film Bawar is like the voice of peace. It creates a positive image for Pashtuns across the world...promoting women’s empowerment. I am speechless and appreciate such great work initiated by EAI for girls' education and women's empowerment. Mr. Afzal Khan
Journalist, Bajawar Agency