On the 21 April Gender Concerns International hosted, in cooperation with the Embassy of Pakistan to the Netherlands, a delegation of women´s rights activists from Pakistan. These delegates visited The Hague to attend the 100 Year Women´s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Conference – Women Stop War.
A first exchange of ideas took place at the Gender Concerns International Headquarters with four members of the delegation: Ms Sameena Nazir – President of WILPF Pakistan section and human rights and peace advocate; Ms Fatima Atif – women´s rights activist in and peace defender in Baluchistan among other regions; Dr Nagina Sadaf – a women´s rights advocate, a political activist and alternative medicine doctor; Ms Tahira Jabeen – women and girls rights activist by choice and a communications and advocacy specialist by profession.
Gender Concerns staff and the Pakistan delegation discussed at length about the work of women rights activists in Pakistan, the challenges they face, the diligent work they perform and how to improve the effectiveness of their work and make a larger impact on a national level. Each expert discussed their work in Pakistan, what they hope to achieve and how they plan to get there.
Potential partnerships for future projects in Pakistan with the various organisations these women represent was discussed. The delegation expressed their enthusiasm and willingness to foster an ongoing relationship with Gender Concerns. The possibility of a consortium or platform to combine work of the delegate’s organisations and possibly other organisations was explored in order to combine multiple areas of expertise. By working together, our organisations will be able to produce larger changes in Pakistan and ensure ongoing assistance and livelihood of smaller organisations.
After the delegations visit to Gender Concerns they proceeded to a dinner meeting with the Deputy Head of Mission and the First Secretary of the Embassy of Pakistan as well as Ms Rukhshanda Naz – Executive Director Legal Aid & Awareness Services in Pakistan; Ms Saima and Jasam Saleem – expert on democracy, human rights, religious extremism and gender in Pakistan; Ms Akeela Naz – president of Peasant Women Society in Khanewal and Ms Tahira Tarique – project coordinator at Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) in Pakistan.
During the dinner meeting, the delegates' work in Pakistan was further discussed and how increased support can be generated for women´s and civil society organisations in the country. The challenges and opportunities of gender and development initiatives in Pakistan were discussed at length as well as the various views of each delegate towards the role of women in Pakistan. Gender Concerns looks forward to continued engagement with these women together with the Embassy of Pakistan to the Netherlands.