During this visit, Gender Concerns International, together with the House of Europe in The Hague, organized a panel discussion on the past, present and future role of European development assistance to Pakistan and its women’s organisations. In accordance with the 2015 European year of development, the event re-emphasized the need to support development programmes. Gender Concerns International and the visiting delegates stressed that it is important for the EU to continue its engagement and good relations with Pakistan to ensure that the country continues its path to democracy and economic stability.
In cooperation with the Embassy of Pakistan, Gender Concerns International held the event, “Malala’s Vision: Gender No Barrier to Education”, in The Hague on Human Rights Day. This was a tribute to Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot for promoting girls’ education. This public event was held at The House of Europe and discussed the rights of boys and especially the rights of girls to equal education opportunities in their communities, since girls make up the majority of the world’s 61 million out-of-school children and are less likely than boys to enter or complete school. Director of Gender Concerns International, Ms. Sabra Bano said the event had been initiated to the cause of all those children of primary school age who are being denied their basic rights to education. It focused on meeting the 2015 UN millennium goal on universal primary education.
In collaboration with the Australian Embassy, Gender Concerns International promoted its ´People to People´ flood relief campaign at the Season’s Opening concert of the New Dutch Academy orchestra at Dr. Anton Philipszaal in The Hague. During the event, the Ambassador of Pakistan, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry stated that: “The Dutch response to the floods in Pakistan reflects true Dutch values and demonstrates that they live up to their aspirations to help as part of the international community.”
A team from Gender Concerns International gathered at the Dr. Anton Philipszaal around 6.45 p.m. and set up the donation boxes, newsletters and information folders for the audience.
Under the umbrella of the Netherlands Women's Council (NVR), six member organisations of the Platform Vrouwen en Duurzame Vrede (woman and sustainable peace) have launched the joint programme WCA 1325. The programme facilitated the invitation and hosting of 26 representatives of women's peace and development organisations from six conflict areas by their six Dutch partners. The purpose of this programme was to build a learning community on women's work for peace, to strengthen functional networks around each case and to give visibility to women's work in the context of Resolution 1325. The functional networks were tasked to mobilize support for women's courageous initiatives and to work on systematic improvements regarding the approaches of women's work. Gender Concerns International contributed to the event by inviting two women's peace and development organisations from both the Indian Administered and the Pakistani Administered Kashmir area.
On the 4th of December, Gender Concerns International organized a meeting in co-operation with Platform VDV about the possible impact of the Dutch NAP1324 on women in conflict zones with regards to the work of Gender Concerns International in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The meeting was organized at the end of the fifth day of the Woman Inc Festival which focused on the Dutch NAP1324. The meeting was attended by various Dutch practitioners from the field, as well as by their counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This visit was a result of intense work for the past eight months regarding the formation of an All Kashmir Women’s Association’ (AKWA). The First Lady has been active and interested in encouraging the participation of women in the reconstruction of post-earthquake phase in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The goal of this mission had multiple purposes. The main activities on the agenda were to monitor the progress on the Twinkle Women Centers Programme in Balakot, to lobby for the ‘Hello Sirs!’ campaign and to visit to the First Step School in Muzaffarabad.
In early December, Ms. Bano was invited by the ICHR Kashmir Center in Brussels to deliver a key note address to their round table discussion. The goal of the roundtable was to remind the States of their obligations under international law to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms with regards to the people of Kashmir.
In 2006, Gender Concerns International, with support of the NCDO, organized the ‘Focus on Pakistan’ event. The event was organized to stress the role of the Pakistani community as central to international development cooperation, whilst at the same time connecting them with mainstream Dutch disaster-assistance actors, many of whom operate in the country and the region.
The ‘Focus on Pakistan’ event was designed to encourage and recognize the role of minorities in international development cooperation. Gender Concerns International specializes in highlighting the problems facing minority groups, whilst at the same time focusing on their potential within society. In this context, the role played by the Pakistani community during the earthquake of 2005 was taken as an example of a good practice. ‘Focus on Pakistan’ was a unique event, which was greatly appreciated not only by the Pakistani community in the Netherlands, but also by individuals and organisations interested in development work.
On the 11th and 12th of April a delegation from Gender Concerns International and women activists and leaders from Pakistan visited Brussels. Participants included Sabra Bano, Saira Kazmi, Mah-Jabeen, Rubaat Iqbal and Rukhsana Riaz. The delegation was hosted by Ahmetaj-Mansour and Elisabeth Frankenand Karine Ancellin. During their visit, the delegation visited the Amazone Women Center. The center was set up in 1995 as the national contact center for women and women's organisations, and has now developed into a resource center and a supportive focal point, in order to strengthen the goal of achieving gender equality
Also organized was a press conference on the Twinkle Women Centers Programme, initiated by Gender Concerns International. During the press conference Rukhsana Riaz, Mah-Jabeen and Saira Kazmi spoke and answered questions raised by newspaper, radio and TV journalists and others in the audience. Many politicians, parliamentarians, people from various ministries, women activists and heads of relevant organisations attended the conference.
In commemoration of six months passing since the earthquake hit Pakistan on the 8th of October 2005, three female earthquake victims from the affected areas of Rawalakot (Kashmir), Balakot and Muzafarabad visited The Netherlands and Belgium to advocate for their need for women’s centers in their areas. The women spoke at various events organized by Gender Concerns International, which has been working with these women towards reaching and achieving a sustainable reconstruction process.