I Was Not Alone: A Pakistani Activist’s Journey for Change

The Story

Pakistani activist Fouzia Saeed tells the story of working women’s struggle to secure their rights in Pakistan. Forming the Alliance against sexual harassment at workplace (AASHA), she and hundreds of others challenged a nation’s behavior towards working women. The Movement led the whole country to stand together against sexual harassment at the workplace, resulting in passage of landmark legislation for the protection of women’s rights.

Background

Formed in 2001, the AASHA Movement was an initiative of six organizations (Mehergarh, Action AID, Bedari, Interactive Resource Centre, Hawwa Associates, and Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research) committed to ending sexual harassment at the workplace.

After ten years of tireless efforts, working with different sectors of society, media, the police, and members of the Cabinet and Parliament, the AASHA Movement finally celebrate the passage of a bill clearly defining and condemning sexual harassment as a criminal offences. On March 9, 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari signed the Amendments to Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1998.

When the AASHA Movement started in 2001, no organization in Pakistan, other than the United Nations, had a sexual harassment policy. Under the law called “Protection from Harassment at Workplace 2008,” every organization is now require to have a sexual harassment policy in place.

Read Sabir Nazar's blog post on how the Arts contributed to the AASHA Movement.

Watch the long video here!