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More Than Just Lawyers: Women in Law Leading Relief Efforts and Policy Debates during COVID-19

* Nida Usman Chaudhary

This entry is in partnership with Women in Law South Africa (WOZA) and Women in Law Pakistan.

The COVID-19 pandemic across the globe has led to nationwide lockdowns and a period of economic stagnation is expected to follow. As it is, the daily wage workers have been amongst the first to be hit by the economic impact of COVID-19 in Pakistan. With hungry bellies and no money to buy food for their children, many are facing severe hardship and emotional and psychological stress. In addition, many are at risk of exposure to coronavirus as a result of lack of access to water and proper sanitation facilities and an inability to observe social distancing because of living conditions in over-populated ‘muhallas’ and ‘jhugis’. Faced with hunger on one end and risk of exposure on the other, life for daily wage workers is nothing short of a fight for survival in either case, lockdown or no lockdown.

Noting that daily wage workers are likely to be among the most affected by the implications of the lockdown and would struggle to provide food for their families in the absence of economic opportunities, several female lawyers are supporting and contributing to the following relief efforts as documented by women in law initiative Pakistan:

A. Food Supplies Delivery Drives

Barrister Anumtah Gul Shakeel and Advocates Eaman Bandial, Mehek Adil and Zahra Ahmed from Lahore are undertaking and supporting food delivery drives for daily wage workers families across Lahore. Barrister Zahra Sehr Vayani in Karachi has delivered food packages to over 5000 families via ‘rickshaws’ thereby allowing the three-wheeler transporters to earn a living whilst also feeding the families in need. Finally, Advocate Huma Jamil Babur and Law Student Mahnoor Omer from Islamabad are making inclusive efforts to cover food deliveries to the transgender community and Afghan Refugees.