ISLAMABAD – Aurat Foundation, under its USAID-funded Gender Equity Programme (GEP), launched Pakistan’s first 3-D animated series on gender-based violence for children entitled “Mein or Mere Dost” on Monday.

The launch was made in connection with 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign.

The Urdu-language series, called Mein aur Mere Dost (Me and My Friends), is the first animated cartoon produced in Pakistan by Creative Village using 3D technology. Designed to educate children about gender equity and advocate against gender-based violence, the seven-episode cartoon series counters gender stereotypes and sends constructive messages against gender-based violence.

The series, produced under GEP Grant Cycle 2, features a team of three young middle school detectives investigating a troubled fellow student who is displaying behaviour associated with victims of gender discrimination and violence. The plot revolves around the young detectives rescuing the troubled student from her dilemma and continues as she joins the group to help them tackle various gender-related dilemmas. The animation will be aired soon on major mainstream and regional channels.

Aurat Foundation, through Gender Equity Programme funds initiatives by local organisations works to expand women’s access to justice, knowledge of women’s rights, and opportunities for women to exercise their rights. Nearly half of Gender Equity Programme resources are devoted to ending gender-based violence.

“The United States believes that investing in women and girls is one of surest ways to achieve economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for Pakistani women - and men,” said U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Richard Hoagland speaking at the event. 

“That’s why the United States government funds programs like Mein Aur Mere Dost, an animated public education campaign designed to help Pakistani women and girls lift up their families, communities, and nation.”

He said that gender-based violence is not restricted to a specific region.

 “It is a global issue and one that presents enormous challenges to nations around the world. Not only women but society as a whole should work together to eliminate gender-based violence,” he said.

In her presentation about activities conducted under GEP, Chief of Party Simi Kamal said so far 97 sub-grants have been awarded under GEP whereas 32,628 women and 60,978 men have participated in 834 advocacy events organized to campaign against GBV across all districts of Pakistan down to the tehsil level.

In his opening remarks, Chief Operating Officer AF Naeem Mirza said that to curtail the impact and transition of gender based violence through generations, it is very important that a targeted and focused effort be made to change behaviors. “Since children are far more impressionable as compared to adults, it becomes increasingly important to focus on them in order to achieve any significant and widespread change in attitudes and behaviors,” he said. 

The event was attended by famous media personalities, civil society representatives and government officials but the most prominent were children from different public and private schools. Others who spoke on the occasion included technical editor of Mein or Mere Dost Adnan Shakeel and Executive Director Creative Village Mustafa Hasnain.