A million signatures light up Pakistan

Date: Saturday, December 10, 2011

Islamabad - A unique music video is aired on 17 channels in Pakistan on 25 November – the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. But this is not another love song! Sung by Khawar Jawad & Nouman Javaid, and sponsored by the United Nations, ‘Socha Kabhi Naa’ reached out to thousands of people as a motivation to take action for preventing violence against women and girls. Written and composed by Dale Birch, and directed by Ehsan Lakhani, the music video has drawn on contributions from many other popular singers. The lyrics have touched a chord calling out to men around the country to listen to the voices of women. “The lyrics are so beautiful,” says Emma Ranifan.
To view the music video, visit

A Coordinated Campaign

The video was a part of the ‘One Million Signatures’ campaign organized by UN Women, Ministry of Human Rights, Ending Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG), an alliance of women’s organizations, and other UN partners. As part of the campaign, a million signatures are being collected with concrete commitments to take action. Thanks to a coordinated effort between regional and international partners, the campaign has reached the grass roots. Across Pakistan, government officials, media persons, medico-legal officers, service providers, and youth from universities are signing “take action” cards. They are pledging to support legislation, raising awareness through social networking, and changing their own behaviour.

Creating Awareness About Legislation

During the launch of the campaign in Islamabad on 25 November, women’s rights activists highlighted the need to for a strong strategy to implement laws to protect women. “Significant efforts have been made in the past to control violence against women in Pakistan, but a lot still needs to be done,” said United Nations Resident Coordinator Timo Pakkala. Members of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and Theresa May, Home Secretary, United Kingdom jointly signed commitments to take action in breaking the silence to end the violence against women and girls.

In Pakistan, women and children are among the most marginalized populations today, living on the intersection of multiple exclusions, disadvantages and dispossessions.

“The main objective behind the campaign was to create awareness about pending legislations like the Domestic Violence Bill, the Acid Crime and Prevention Bill 2009, and issues related to women and girls in crisis. We want to strengthen grass root level works on violence against women and girls through EVAWG Alliance, and demonstrate solidarity with survivors ,” said Fahmida Iqbal, Programme Officer, UN Women Pakistan.

Senator Nilofer Bakhtiar urged the government to act on announcements and commitments that were made and forgotten in the past, and also to establish a body at the federal level that can act as a watchdog on the implementation of legislation related to women.

A Purple Bus Carries the Message

One of the many highlights of the campaign was UN Women’s specially branded purple bus with a woman driver, carrying media persons and some well-known personalities. Starting its symbolic journey from the Islamabad Convention Centre, the bus spread the word to end violence against women and girls.

At the launch of the campaign in Quetta, Balochistan on 25 November, 13 organizations joined hands together to make the event a success with almost 135 participants from the Government, civil society, academia, media, judiciary and women organizations. At the end of the campaign on 10 December, members of the EVAWG alliance and UN Women visited Dar-ul-Aman in Rawalpindi and participated in a play on violence.