Aawaz II Programme organised a two-day Learning and Development Forum for the programme partners and stakeholders in Lahore jointly with the provincial partner Peace & Justice Network (PJN). The main objective of the event was to enhance understanding of inclusion and tolerance among Aawaz II partners and build knowledge and capacities of the key programme team members in 13 districts of Punjab.
Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari, Punjab Minister for Social Welfare and Bait-ul-Maal and Mr. Ansar Majeed Khan Niazi, Punjab Minister for Labour and Human Resource participated in the inaugural session and informed participants about the new initiatives by the ministries. Over 120 provincial stakeholders, including social activists, Aawaz II forum members, Aawaz II Change Agents, district partners and Aawaz II field teams participated in the event.
Dr. Yasmin Zaidi, Aawaz II Team Lead highlighted the importance of inclusion of vulnerable segments of the population in mainstream life. She appreciated the efforts of Aawaz II district partners for bringing persons with disabilities, transgender persons, religious minorities together on the Aawaz II platform. She also explained how Aawaz II is promoting tolerance and inclusion in the society.
While speaking at the event, Syed Yawer Abbas Bukhari, Punjab Minister for Social Welfare and Bait ul Maal shared details of the landmark law that his department has recently drafted to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities in Punjab. He highlighted the salient features of the proposed bill and shared that hopefully this proposed bill will be passed by the Assembly as an Act by December 3, 2021.
Mr. Mahindar Pall Singh, Punjab Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights and Minorities accentuated on the importance of interfaith harmony for peaceful societies. He appreciated Aawaz II Learning and Development Forum for organising the event, which he termed as fully inclusive. Mr. Ansar Majeed, Punjab Minister for Labour and Human Resource, in his address recognised the rights of domestic workers and shared that the registration process of domestic workers is underway in Punjab, which will help addressing child labour in the province.
A panel discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities was attended by Sana Khurshid, Advocate and PWD activist, Advocate Pervaiz Malik, Mr. Shafiq ur Rehman, PWD activist and Ms Zahida, PWD activist. They recommended to make homes, public places, and transport systems more accessible. The panellists asked for a comprehensive set of laws to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life.
Punjab Learning and Development Forum participants also stressed on the filling of vacancies as per minority quota for all government jobs, government housing schemes, social protection services like BISP and Ehsaas Programme and education opportunities at all levels.
Other distinguished speakers and participants at the event included Dr. Baela Raza Jamil, Civil Society Leader and Child Rights Acitivist; Mr. Irfan Gondal, Director Punjab Council for Disabled Persons; Mr. Dawood Abdullah, Director Punjab Labour Department; Iftikhar Mubarak, Child Rights Activist; Zanaya Chaudary, Transgender Rights Activist; and Mr. Chamman Lal, Minority Rights Activist.
In closing session of the event, participants came up with their Action Plans for future implementation of Aawaz II Programme. Mr. Arshad Mehmood, Aawaz II Deputy Team Lead delivered the vote of thanks.
Aawaz II Programme works with local communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to promote the rights of children, women, youth, and other vulnerable groups, to work towards a more inclusive, tolerant and peaceful Pakistan. Aawaz II is a programme managed by the British Council.