The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has had an extensive youth engagement programme with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Pakistan since 2013. To date, 111 national UN Youth Volunteers have been mobilized with the Strengthening Electoral and legislative Processes (SELP) project. These volunteers have diverse education backgrounds and have been deployed to urban and rural areas to raise awareness of communities on civic rights, voter education and local and the national political system. National UN Youth Volunteers Fatima Rind and Aneesa Kafair share their experiences.
"I was teaching a session on parliamentary systems in a village outside Hyderabad in Sindh province to a crowd of 50 labourers, and decided to tell shopkeepers and shepherds – who all happened to be men. After I delivered the teaching materials, I told them a little bit about myself, my education background and my volunteer work with UNDP."
I wanted them to see me beyond my gender. I wanted them to see that women and girls can also lead, if given the right schooling and education opportunity. --national UN Volunteer with UNDP Fatima Rind
"Once my presentation was over, a shepherd approached me with a smile. He told me that my story had inspired him to enroll his seven-year old physically impaired daughter in school, so that one day she will inspire others to do the same. That was a moment of pride for me to serve as a volunteer."
This is what Fatima Rind, national UN Youth Volunteer, finds rewarding in her work providing civic education to urban and rural communities in Pakistan.
She is part of the fourth batch of 35 Youth Volunteers deployed with UNDP Pakistan’s Strengthening Electoral and Legislative Processes project, funded by UKaid and USAID. These volunteers provide education and awareness on civic matters, including voter’ education and local and national political systems.
“The ingenuity and passion of the UN Civic Education Youth Volunteers to share with and engage local communities on their civic duties and rights, and how to be an engaged and informed citizen, has inspired thousands in Pakistan, including me. While the UNV portion of the overall project, Strengthening Electoral and Legislative Processes, is relatively small, I believe its impact, through the relationships with universities and the participation of youth, is extremely impactful. --Darren Nance, Chief Technical Advisor, Strengthening Electoral and Legislative Processes project, UNDP Pakistan
Aneesa Kafait, national UN Youth Volunteer with UNDP, sensitizes men on the importance of women engaging in the electoral process. (©UNV, 2019)
This batch of volunteers includes seventeen women who are committed to utilize their knowledge in various civic engagements to educate the public.
Aneesa Kafait is another civic education UN Youth Volunteer working with UNDP Pakistan. Her day-to-day work includes sensitizing remote communities on registering women for identity card issuance and raising awareness on parliament, as well as local and provincial governments.
“Lack of proper knowledge, especially amongst illiterate people, is an obstacle for civic engagement," Aneesa says. "Our activities in communities encourage people to share issues that matter to them, while learning about mechanisms to address them. As UN Volunteers, our work motivates people to further develop their knowledge and communities.”
“Engaging young volunteers from local communities has been a successful approach in promoting youth participation and dialogue on civic education.” --Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative, a.i., UNDP Pakistan