Since the beginning of our work on engagement of women in peacebuilding work, there has been a consistent effort to reach out to diverse groups of women in AJK with an aim to expand and strengthen the constituency of socially active women peacebuilders. In the course of our women’s work, by arranging a series of workshops, meetings and focus group discussions we were able to connect and engage with women from multiple professional backgrounds.
One of the key focus of our work is to further explore more diverse, energetic and dynamic perspectives from women which could help visualize more practical and proactive roles for women as peacebuilders. With this aim, we decided to hold time to time brief consultative meetings with women from different backgrounds so that they could discuss and brainstorm practical suggestions about their active engagement and role in the larger process.
Hence KIIR organized a consultative meeting in Islamabad where we invited university professors as well as students who were enrolled in higher education in various universities.
During this brief session the participants had a rich discussion and they were able to deliberate on possible ways of proactive engagement for women in AJK. Some of the key suggestions which came up during discussion are as follows:
- The participants stressed on the significance of engaging with youth (young girls) who are enrolled in masters, M.Phil. and Ph.D. programs in universities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. These young educated students generally have a lot of potential and enthusiasm for taking up active roles in society. All they need is some motivation which could give them a sense of direction for carving meaningful roles for themselves.
- There was a lot of emphasis on engaging women in healthy discussion and debate, in particular regarding issues which concern their status as female members of society. At the same time, it was highlighted that women should also be made part of discussions on issues of national concerns. As in patriarchal social structures like ours, women are not given significant space in important debates of national concerns, which leaves them isolated. Because of this exclusion, they are not able to feed in their perspectives.
- Need for acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of women who are actively performing their roles in society. There was discussion on the barriers which hinder women’s active participation in our social setup and the participants were of the view that there is not much recognition and social approval for the achievements of women. They suggested that media can play a key role in breaking these taboos and celebrating the achievements of women in AJK society. The positive projection of women’s success stories through media can set positive examples for others and it can also help in enhancing the social recognition for the active participation of women in our society.
- One interesting point which came up during the discussion was that despite all barriers and limitations, on an optimistic note a small section of women from AJK have managed to stand determined and have been able to take up socially and politically active roles. There is a need to capitalize on this small section by building their capacity further and by providing them opportunities for training and expertise. If their potential is tapped in a constructive manner, they can prove to be value added assets.