Zeest, literally meaning life, focuses on gender and violence against women.
Zeest believes that women must be at the center stage in any movement for social justice and change. It recognizes violence against women as both, an outcome of the power imbalance in gender relations and a principal organizing feature of patriarchy that serves to control women.
The program conducts its activities by: raising awareness in women and communities on violence against women and gender issues, supporting women survivors of violence, and enhancing capacity of state and non-state actors to be better skilled and effective in responding to violence against women. It carries out these activities by actively engaging with other partners including government support systems for women, non-governmental or community organizations, lawyers, doctors and students.
How Zeest works
As one of its core strategies, Zeest enhances the capacity of numerous professionals and organizations on violence against women.
The program’s capacity-building workshops include:
- Self-growth workshops, with a focus on issues like self awareness, anger management, communication skills, and stress management for staff of different organizations, community groups and survivors of violence.
- Para-counseling workshops, with a focus on capacity building of professionals who deal with survivors of violence in government and non-governmental organizations including women centers and Dar-ul-Amans.. These workshops are also designed for interested students.
- Sensitization workshops on gender and violence against women.
- Training of trainers for professionals on issues like gender sensitization, violence against women, psychosocial support services after disasters and displacement, case management of violence against women.
Zeest raises awareness through a diverse set of activities on topics ranging from emotional health and violence against women to ethical handling of women and child survivors of violence. It conducts orientations in communities with women, informs opinion through television and radio programs, and advocates for women rights through seminars and publications.
Every year, the program ensures its active participation in celebration of important days that honor women such as National (12th February) and International (8th March) Women’s Days and 16 Days of Activism against Violence Against Women.
The program’s extensive work on the ethical dilemmas in handling cases of violence against women has been of special help to organizations and individuals dealing with such cases. Zeest itself conducts awareness-raising sessions with women survivors of violence by informing them of their rights; it also highlights the responsibilities of professionals who directly deal with cases of such violence; these include: police personnel, lawyers, medico legal officers, case workers of NGO’s or government institutions like women centers and Dar-ul-Aman.
- In the past few years, Zeest has worked extensively with the public sector by building capacity of the state-run shelters/centers with an aim to improving quality of services in these centers. One such initiative included the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Development for women centers. Currently, Rozan in alliance with Dastak and Shirkat Gah collectively works to ensure that all state run facilities for women across the country adopt uniform and effective procedures for providing quality support to women; this includes building capacity of staff of these centers through trainings.
- In 2003, Zeest along with other organizations initiated a dialogue on the need for a code of conduct for service providers working with survivors of violence. The forum has been formalized since 2004 and dissemination of information continues through the network named “Hurmat”. The code of ethics “Guidelines for the Protection of Dignity and Rights of Survivors of Violence” is developed and endorsed by over 39 organizations nationally, with Rozan as the Secretariat.
- In September 2011, Rozan hosted a South Asian conference ‘Reclaiming Space: From Victimhood to Agency; State and Civil Society Response to Violence Against Women’. With delegates from Sri Linka, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the conference sought to review the work in the region on survivor support systems, and chart a way forward for collective working on these issues.
Publications and IEC material:
- Training manual for working with women on violence against women. (Available in English/Urdu)
- Training manual for working with women on emotional health. (Available in English/Urdu)
- Training manual for capacity building of women center staff ‘Strengthening women’s centers to support survivors of violence’. (Available in English)
- Training manual for Gender trainers for organizations working in humanitarian settings (Available in English)
- ‘Guidelines for the Protection of Dignity and Rights of Survivors of Violence’- 2009 Second Edition (Available in English and Urdu)
- Information booklet on domestic violence
- Posters for service providers (organizations, lawyers, doctors) dealing with survivors of violence
- Poster on rights of survivors of violence