14. Raising awareness of issues through a Smartphone in Pakistan

Asifa Khan is a trained lawyer, and social activist, who works with civil society organisation Accountability Lab Pakistan as an “accountapreneur” in their Accountability Incubator program. It aims to help young civil society leaders build sustainable, effective tools for accountability, participation, and social impact. Accountapreneur, a combination of two words – “accountability” and “entrepreneurs” - is a term coined by Accountability Lab.

Accountapreneurs develop social accountability tools to be used in their communities. AL Pakistan offers accountrapreneurs two years of hands-on support including training in mentoring and management, network building, media outreach, seed funding and fundraising. AL Pakistan currently has 13 accountapreneurs working on a range of initiatives, including an Accountability Film school in Islamabad, new solutions to healthcare and education systems and providing arts education to underprivileged children. I heard about AL Pakistan from a colleague already working with them as an accountapreneur, and through social media sites. I began my work as an accountapreneur in January.

In Pakistan many people, particularly those in rural communities, do not read, because of illiteracy or lack of interest, according to AL Pakistan. Video content provides a great alternative tool to allow them to find out what is happening in Pakistan using interesting content.

“I believe that the internet and social media is the best forum to highlight issues and capture people’s attention, especially the youth,” says Asifa.

“I use a basic DSLR camera and my mobile phone, that I’d already bought myself.

“With it, I go to the markets and other places to do interviews.”

The videos focus on issues such as such as the reasons for women’s lack of participation in politics.

One of the videos talked about general elections held in July 2018 in the Okara district of Pakistan. It has a low female voter registration, according to data from the country’s election commission.

““The reason behind the unregistered female voters is that women are not registered as voters,” says Asifa.

“I conducted interviews with district election commissioners and other stake holders,” says Asifa.

She edit the videos herself using different software tools.

Asifa and other accountapreneurs, who work as volunteers for AL Pakistan, then publish the videos on local news website Tumbhibolo.com.pk  and YouTube.

AL Pakistan has given accountapreneurs training on how to write good funding proposals, raise funds, and networking with different donor organisations.

“We are in the era of mobile journalism,” says Asifa.

“A mobile phone is the best tool to capture an issue.”

Accountability Lab Pakistan were nominated in the civil society organisation of the 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Awards, led by CIVICUS through the CIVIC Space Initiative together with CIVICUS’ SPEAK! campaign.  Follow them on Twitter @AccountLab .

This article is part of a series to celebrate CIVICUS’ 25th anniversary and provide perspectives and insights on citizen action around the world.

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