Aurat Foundation has for a long time wanted to compile a book focusing on the first four-year term of the newly elected women councilors, highlighting their experiences, struggles and success stories. We strongly believe that such a publication would guide aspiring women politicians and aid them in their careers. The second edition was now launched.
By Aurat Foundation with support from Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Pakistan
Preface (Second English Edition)
Aurat Foundation has for a long time wanted to compile a book focusing on the first four year term of the newly elected women councilors, highlighting their experiences, struggles and success stories. We strongly believe that such a publication would guide aspiring women politicians and aid them in their careers.
During our previous projects and the Citizen’s Election Campaign we had already gathered a lot of stories from women councilors; however, we still felt that some essential information was missing. In January 2005 we began to organize workshops to which we invited women councilors elected at the district, tehsil/ taluqa and union levels from all four provinces of Pakistan. They were chosen on the basis of the contributions they had made to the development of their constituencies. During the course of these workshops they shared their experiences and life stories with us, and were able to record and later compile them in the form of this series of books.
What is the importance of politics? Why is it imperative that women take an active part in politics? What is true success? These were some of the question we contemplated and discussed in great detail in our workshops. As the women councillors narrated their stories and listened to the experiences of their fellow councilors, they were able to understand each other’s problems. They asked each other questions, shared their knowledge and opinions, and expressed their emotions. They laughed, and sometimes they cried as well. It was a unique opportunity to reveal the difficulties they had faced during the course of their arduous struggle.
It is common practice in our part of the world to judge success by numbers - how many, how much. If a councilor has failed to construct a certain number of roads or design a certain number of schemes, then she is bound to be considered a failure. However, when we asked these councilors about “success”, a lot of different meanings of the word emerged. We realised that we have to consider the magnitude of the task, where it began and under what circumstances. How have we managed to reach the place where we stand today? What were the difficulties and efforts that were involved? We cannot measure everyone’s accomplishments by the same scale. We have to look into all aspects of their circumstances and situations, and this is exactly what we did in our workshop sessions. Eventually the councilors themselves decided that success is multi-dimensional and indeed they should not consider themselves to have failed in their mission.
This is the second volume of the series From Home to House and contains twelve stories of women councilors. We hope that you have been able to read and enjoy the previous volume. All the narratives that we recorded during the workshops were unique in their own right and it was very difficult to make a selection. All the stories included here are interesting, motivational and authentic. Through this series we acknowledge the struggles of women councilors who remained steadfast despite innumerable problems, this creating a path for themselves. These true stories will clearly show the various stages used by these women to solve the problems and overcome the hurdles they faced. We hope this book and the others in the series, will inspire, encourage and guide future women councilors.
Aurat Foundation is grateful to the women councilors who spared their time, despite their busy schedules, to participate in our workshops. We would also like to thank our district partners network, our local project coordinators and other colleagues whose combined efforts enabled us to compile this series. The publication of this series was made possible by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, for which we are extremely grateful.
We have tried our best to preserve the councillors’ style of expression. Sometimes, when translating from local dialects and languages, we were compelled to paraphrase. At times we have retained Urdu words or English words used in a Pakistani context. Such words which occur frequently are listed in a glossary at the start of the book. For other occurrences, the reader will find explanatory footnotes.
It is our wish to continue this tradition of biographical narrative in the volumes that will follow. We believe that these books will collectively emerge as a historical document and prove to be a roadmap for all women who venture into politics. It is up to the reader to decide how far we have succeeded in our endeavor.
Nasreen Zehra, Project Director