Deliver Justice Project - Making justice more accessible and inclusive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan

May 9, 2024

“I was completely unaware about the things we learned today in this training about legal aid,” shared Advocate Neelum Ibrar Chattan, a 29-year-old award-winning child rights activist and lawyer from Swat who attended the two-day training of women lawyers on representing legal aid clients, especially gender-based violence (GBV) survivors.

Photo: Amna Karim/UNDP Pakistan

The training programme was developed based on the findings of a 2022 baseline study ‘Evaluation of Citizens’ Awareness of Basic Laws, Women Protection Laws and Rights, Legal Rights and Available Legal Support Mechanisms’ supported by UNDP Pakistan as part of the European Union (EU) funded ‘Deliver Justice Project.’ The study revealed that the majority of people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan lack access to legal aid, while recipients of legal aid usually reach out for cases of GBV.

To address this alarming situation, in 2023, UNDP Pakistan trained over 75 women lawyers to develop their legal aid assistance skills, particularly for GBV survivors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. These trainings were held in Quetta, Peshawar, and Swat.

A young advocate from Peshawar while talking about her experience of the training said, “Very interactive! The trainers were not the only ones speaking, we all spoke our minds, about our thoughts and experiences.” She further emphasized that the training provided a space where women lawyers felt seen, heard, and safe,  reflecting the challenges posed by society and their unique ways of coping with those dilemmas. 

Photo: Shuja Hakim/UNDP Pakistan

Advocate Sabira Shakir had to discontinue her legal practice due to a lack of facilities for women lawyers when she moved to Swat after completing her legal education from Balochistan. In 2014, UNDP Pakistan Rule of Law Programme established the first-ever bar room for women lawyers in Swat. As shared by Sabira , this proved to be an incentive for her to resume her legal career and she returned to the courts with renewed determination to serve those in need of legal redress. Since then, she has been working in her district tirelessly to raise legal rights awareness.

However, it wasn’t until she attended the legal training organized by UNDP that she realized the important role she could play in making justice more accessible for all, particularly women, by providing pro bono legal aid services to those who cannot afford going to formal courts for protection of their legal rights.

Empowering women lawyers in Balochistan through the provision of law books

Essential law books are typically expensive for the average lawyer in Pakistan and young lawyers particularly have to borrow them from their seniors instead of purchasing them. To provide women with all the resources required to develop their legal knowledge and skills, UNDP Pakistan also distributed law books amongst training participants in Quetta. These law books package included all the important statutes lawyers must study in order to advance in their careers in Pakistan.

Advocate Ghazala, was one of the women lawyers who received this package. Advocate Ghazala provides pro-bono legal aid services, especially to GBV survivors, in Quetta. “Coming from a small town, and a low-income household, a career in law became my only choice when my family couldn’t get justice for our murdered sister due to a lack of legal guidance,” Advocate Ghazala shared while talking about her incredible journey. She was exhilarated to receive the law books from UNDP and the EU. “Just yesterday, I had to put back a very expensive law book on the shelf at a bookstore because I didn’t have enough money. Today, I found that book in the package that was given to me by UNDP, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.” 

Capacity development of court staff and judges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Under the ‘Deliver Justice Project,’ UNDP Pakistan also trained 50 court staff (both men and women) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who have a front-line role in courts, on how to deal with GBV survivors and supported the training of over 15 judges (both men and women) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including merged districts on case management, human rights, and the rule of law at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy.

Why do we do what we do?

Underlining the importance of this initiative, Ms Meriem El Harouchi, First Secretary, of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan, elaborated, “It is a matter of creating trust between the citizens and the providers of justice, and also law enforcement. So, if we have more women who are lawyers and judges simply working in judiciary, it encourages more women who are survivors to go to those institutions to seek justice.”

With the increased participation of women lawyers in providing legal aid in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and a justice sector more sensitized to the nuances of GBV cases, more marginalized individuals will feel encouraged and safe to approach formal justice systems and seek legal aid. Together, to achieve this milestone, the EU and UNDP Pakistan are striving to make the justice and security sectors more gender-responsive for both service providers and the right holders through capacity development, legislative reforms, and infrastructure support.


The ‘Deliver Justice Project’ aims to support reform processes to ensure the delivery of people-centered justice, enhance access to justice for all, particularly women and less privileged groups, and improve service delivery of the security sector in line with constitutional safeguards and international standards. Implemented in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Merged Districts, the programme is funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Story and video by:
Amna Karim
Communication and Programme Support Analyst,
Rule of Law Programme, 
UNDP Pakistan

The UNDP Rule of Law Programme is implementing a range of interventions to strengthen security and justice sector governance in Pakistan.