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History Rationale

ASR is a non-profit, non-governmental resource centre set up in 1983 as a multidisciplinary, multidimensional group working towards social transformation. ASR’s ideological stance has been to re-examine the development alternatives based on the empowerment of majority of the people, so that the people themselves can identify and be involved not only in `satisfying the urgent needs of the present, but in anticipating and creating their own future’.

Given that the planning and work towards ASR started several years earlier, it is perhaps the oldest organisation of its kind in Pakistan. Throughout its long involvement in the field of development initiatives, it has often been a catalyst for other groups and has necessarily undergone various transformations within itself.

Although ASR is not a women’s centre, its ideological underpinnings are feminist. This bias as well as its holistic view of development has led ASR to experiment with a range of activities; in some cases with a view to redefining development and politics, and in others to explore and to create the space necessary for such experiment. As such ASR is always difficult to explain and appears to undertake a range of activities. Yet for ASR these activities are interlinked and interconnected and since the rationale for each invariably lies in another there is an internal logic in its diversity. The emphasis on any particular activity, in any given period, therefore depends on the need at that moment…. to define a new space, to experiment with an idea, to respond to a need, to make a political statement. Hence the name `ASR’ which means IMPACT in Urdu.

While the emphasis may have changed at different times, ASR has been and is involved in a range of activities which include research and writing; in organising and conducting training programmes at different levels; in audio-visual production including the encouragement and support of alternative theatre; in publishing; in maintaining a comprehensive resource and documentation centre; in networking, solidarity and activism; in community-based awareness and action programmes; and in working towards a women’s studies centre.

ASR is closely associated with several women’s groups, social actions groups, theatre and other communication groups, trade unions and peasant organisations and networks at national, sub-regional, regional and international levels. Within the country ASR acts as a catalyst, a network and a resource centre for these and other groups in linking them with each other but also in relations to its own training and other programmatic activities.

ASR’s own work includes training workshops at grass root levels; women and development workshops with development workers and women’s rights activists; theatre workshops and festivals with theatre activists on the role of theatre in political movements as well as skill workshops; women and media video workshops to strengthen a communication resource base for women’s development initiatives in Pakistan; women’s studies/theory workshops; multidimensional Women’s Studies Conference and Festival of feminist creativity.

ASR also facilitates the training of individuals and groups by putting them in touch with training facilities and resource persons within and outside the country. Over the past 25 years, ASR personnel have been part of training programmes of over approximately 12000 development workers/women and trade union activists etc. and has facilitated the training and international exposure of a further 5020 activists. ASR also arranges trainings/workshops for its staff and faculty members on specific issues.