An important area of ASR’s activities is in facilitating, providing and conducting various types of training at different levels within and outside Pakistan. Most of ASR’s workshops are residential and use participatory training methodology and many have included resource persons from outside Pakistan, especially from India. ASR’s training makes a concerted effort to link the micro with the macro so that policy decisions can be made anticipating long-term macro developments. This necessitates developing different training modules and encourages academia debate.
ASR has been arranging trainings and workshops since 1983 and some have been issue specific, such as the Women and Development workshop, which has been conducted several times in different years. It was first held on a South Asian level in Bangladesh in March-April 1986, in Nepal in December 1986, in Murree in August 1987, in Bhit Shah, Sindh in January 1988, in Lahore in June 1989, and in Changa Manga in February-March 1991. This workshop is involved with discussions on issues on patriarchy, religion, culture and ideology, portrayal of women, family and marriage, feminism, violence against women, working in the community and militarisation of society and its effects on women.
Women and Media was a two-week national workshop held in July 1988 in Lahore for women development workers, activists and professionals, especially those in the media. The workshop aimed to strengthen the communication resource base for women’s development initiatives in Pakistan and analysis of mass media particularly of film and television in terms of the negative portrayal of women and to evolve a curriculum for future training in video production and utilisation.
In addition ASR arranges workshops on more general conceptual and development issues such as the one-week residential workshop Feminism, Women’s Movement and Women and Development held in Abbottabad in 1993. Its aim was to develop closer links between researchers, activists, development workers and donors and to make women’s studies, conceptual understanding and macro development questions accessible to activists and to create a network that would reflect the women’s movements.
At times the trainings have been skill specific such as formulating, monitoring and evaluating projects and programmes, especially people based projects; training in video and theatre skills as conducted in The Use of Theatre for Empowerment workshop although the skill development workshops always include a conceptual and analytical component.
ASR has arranged many issue based workshops and the more recent ones include Feminist Perspective on Mainstream Education a national level, five day workshop to facilitate and provide training at different levels within Pakistan. It was held in July 2000 and was for high school teachers and its purpose was to look at various educational texts with reference to a feminist perspective. The second workshop Sexual Harassment held in August 2000 was to redefine sexual harassment, to identify and discuss the different forms of sexual harassment and to emphasise the fact that harassment is never the victim’s fault. Nurses, female journalists, producers, editors, librarians, receptionists and office assistants participated in this workshop.
Another workshop Feminist Perspective on the Portrayal of Women in Media held in September 2000 was attended by both men and women and open to journalists, theatre and media professionals. The goal of the workshop was to bring together those individuals already active and committed to working for women’s empowerment and for sustainable development.
ASR also organised a five-day workshop on Design and Crafts Production in March 2000 conducted by Salima Hashmi, Nazish Attaullah and Shehnaz Ismail.
A five-day national workshop on Women as Property and Women and Property: Women’s Labour and Women’s Rights in Rural Communities in India, Pakistan and Nepal was conducted in January 2001. The resource persons were Dr. Manoshi Mitra and Nighat Said Khan and the thirty three participants came from all over Pakistan. These sessions described how women are exploited by men in different ways and are not regarded as full citizens due to the prevalent gender biased ideology.
A provisional workshop Conflict and Peace in June 2001 was arranged as part of the advocacy programme to tell people in remote areas of Punjab about the need for peace and conflict resolution.
A South Asian artists workshop Rumours of Spring-Artists for Peace was organised by ASR in April 2001. Sixteen young artists from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan produced and exhibited their artwork in public places based on the theme of peace which lasted for two weeks. Four sites selected for this purpose were ASR, AGHS, Gulab Devi Hospital and Sanjan Nagar School.
A five-day workshop on Feminist Research Methods was organised by ASR in January 2002. The aim was to expose University faculty, research scholars and people working in development agencies involved in social science and humanities research to the logic and philosophy underlying the data collection exercise as pursued by feminist scholars.
Health, Women and Workers: A Third World Perspective was organised in May 2002 for medical specialists, medical school faculty and individuals working in various NGOs in the health care domain. The aim of this workshop was to create a space where doctors and other participants could be exposed to alternative perspectives on conducting research and about health policy planning and implementation. Another aim was to start a critical dialogue around the notion of universal applicability of biomedical vision of health in academic/action research and teaching circles in Pakistan.
A five-day workshop on Creative Writing held in October 2002 was centred on the study of the structure and craft of fiction: setting, character, plot, theme and language. The aim of the workshop was to create a space where women with a genuine interest in reading and writing fiction could meet, live together, share their writing and sustain their dialogue even after the end of the workshop.
A national workshop titled Women, Use, Production and Conservation of Natural Resources: A Critique of Development Planning was held in May 2002 with an aim to create a space where people involved in research and policy planning regarding natural resources in the country were exposed to alternative perspectives. Another aim of this workshop was to start a critical dialogue about the mainstream models of development planning in the country.
ASR also arranges trainings/workshops for its staff and faculty members on specific issues.