Women’s self-help group in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan combats gender inequality at home

Energized by the What Women Want campaign and fueled by the belief that women are stronger when they join hands and act together, mobilizers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan founded Apni Madad Ap (Helping Myself) groups. Each group consists of six women of various ages from different villages. And each group addresses head on some of the most deep-seated gender norms and practices, including early marriage and spousal abuse.

For example, when the Apni Madad Ap women learned that a girl who had not yet started menstruating was set to be married, they intervened immediately with both the girl’s mother and mother-in-law. They spoke to the challenges of a young girl being able to care for herself, let alone a husband or baby. Ultimately, the women of Apni Madad Ap convinced the mother-in-law—who was the final decision-maker—that in order for the girl to be a good wife and mother, the marriage must be delayed by a few years until she was ready.

Similarly, Apni Madad Ap women helped a woman to successfully escape an abusive husband with her two children. Once again, they immediately mobilized a response to protect her safety and that of her children. The Apni Madad Ap women met with the mother-in-law of the abuser—and in a remarkable action to counter cultural norms that preclude men and women from interacting—the women of Apni Madad Ap involved their own husbands to speak to the abuser. Ultimately, they were able to have the husband sign a legal document stating that he would no longer abuse her.

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