A first ever in the history of Pakistan to uplift Transgender Community in flood affected areas
The National Transgender Fellowship Program for Inclusive Humanitarian Response, a three months fellowship program for the transgender community in 33 flood-affected districts, aims to empower and mainstream the transgender community and to ensure their inclusion in flood relief and response. This program will help in establishing district transgender protection and an inclusive humanitarian response system by enabling transgender fellows after comprehensive training to play a proactive and leading role during disasters as well as to equip them so that they can effectively coordinate with government and humanitarian organizations to address the needs of the transgender community.
Under this program, the Peace and Justice Network (PJN) and National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) will enhance the capacity and skills of the transgender community in humanitarian disaster relief response, inclusion, flood relief efforts, and protection through residential training and also through three months of district engagement of the selected Transgender Fellows. The fellowship is part of a national program that PJN is implementing in all four provinces and federal level “Bridging the Barriers - Inclusion of Transgender Community in Flood Relief and Response” in collaboration with NCHR with the support of the Concern Worldwide and USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).
The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) is an independent statutory body created to look into matters pertaining to all forms of violations of human rights within the territorial jurisdiction of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by virtue of the National Commission of Human Rights Act of 2012 headed by Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha. The commission is working for the empowerment of the most vulnerable communities and part of its mission is to support the development of a disaster relief approach that addresses the impact borne by vulnerable groups such as the transgender community in the aftermath of natural disasters.
The findings of needs assessment on transgender protection and humanitarian response conducted during the current flood relief and response by Peace & Justice Network has informed that the transgender community has been excluded at all levels. The transgender community felt that if a proper inclusion has been ensured and proper training has been provided, they could have played a very productive role in collaboration with government departments and other humanitarian organizations to support their fellow transgender community who have been greatly affected due to recent floods. To address this gap, this Fellowship program has been designed and initiated where the transgender fellows will be selected from 33 most flood-affected districts from across Pakistan including Pishin, Quetta, Sibi, and other geographically marginalized areas of Balochistan, Sindh, KP, and Punjab.
Syed Raza Ali, PJN’s CEO and the Convener National Transgender Taskforce on Floods Relief & Response, stated that the transgender community in Pakistan is a highly marginalized group and has been further marginalized by the devastating flooding that has displaced over 33 million people and left millions deprived of basic needs. This Fellowship program, first of its kind in the world, will provide a great opportunity for the transgender community to play a mainstream role and it will also help them ensure their inclusion with dignity. Advocate Faiza Farooq – Director PJN, said that I believe transgender people are extraordinary, strong, Intelligent, and skillful by all means, and through this program, I believe we are building a long history, and this I encourage all the Trans community from the grass root to become part of this fellowship.
In recent floods, we have seen that government emergency response preparedness didn’t include the transgender community in their response strategy. They have not been included in the distribution of shelter, health services, and food, and as such, were unable to receive vital supplies. Also, there is no data available on how many transgender has been provided flood relief services. This fellowship program will help the fellows act as change agents to bridge the gaps between the transgender community and humanitarian actors such as government and national and international organizations.
Nayyab Ali – National Program Technical Specialist, said that “Not having a national identity card is also another enormous challenge for the transgender community in flood-affected areas, and it limits their access to relief aid. There are incidents where the transgender community who tried to find space in government-organized camps has been harassed and sent back. They are not welcomed in relief camps and do not have easy access to services that may be available to other internally displaced persons (IDPs). The lack of adequate government and humanitarian organization support even forced some of the transgender community to migrate to other cities for their survival. She further stated that this program would not only bridge the gaps but also accelerate community engagement at the government level and provide them with livelihood opportunities.
Ms. Mujeeba Batool (National Program Manager) shared that there is no official data available on how many transgender community members have been affected due to recent floods, so this means they are not actually the priority of the government. Many of the transgender community members have lost their homes in recent floods. The floods have taken away their livelihood.
The Grassroots level Transgender community lauded PJN Pakistan, NCHR, the Concern Worldwide and USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) for launching this program for the transgender community and stressed that government, international, and national humanitarian organizations should include transgender populations in flood relief response under special transgender inclusion protocols and standards.
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