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Kashmiri women yearn for peace, economic stability

ISLAMABAD: Women of Jammu and Kashmir from both the sides of the Line of Control (LoC) expressed their desire for peace, security and economic stability in the region and demanded an immediate end to the protracted conflict.

The women during a two-day intra-Kashmir conference held at Gulmarg demanded their participation in all the peace-building initiatives and peace negotiations on Kashmir.

They demanded of the governments of India and Pakistan to simplify the procedures of trade, communication and travel across the LoC by opening other trade and travel routes like Kargil-Skardu, Chamb-Bhimbar and Leh-Khaplu.

They said that the ceasefire should be respected with immediate halt to violations. They also demanded resolution of all the outstanding issues like landmine, release and return of stray crossers and urged that all the civilian areas should be de-militarised and the Draconian acts like AFSPA and PSA should be repealed.

They also demanded an end to human rights abuses and violations; women representation in legislative assemblies, councils, local bodies, autonomous and independent state institutions to monitor and report gender-based issues; establishment of legal aid committees and village helpline by the state to immediately address issues of half-widows and sexual assault; coverage of state compensation under civil law; people-friendly police reforms; student and faculty exchange programmes across the LoC; and increase in women’s access to micro-financing schemes.

According to Mrs N Malik, Coordinator of Conference from AJK, the second intra-Kashmir dialogue could not take place in AJK due to strained India-Pakistan relations after the Bombay blasts. However, after four years, the conference was held at Gulmarg which was jointly organised by the Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) and Women for Peace, an indigenous Srinagar-based NGO with the financial assistance of EU.

The theme of the two-day dialogue was, ‘Women Roles in Society: Issues of Mutual Concern.’ The participants discussed women’s roles in peace-building, policy-making and socio-economic and legal issues in women’s empowerment. The women speakers from both the sides of LOC presented their papers and finally recommendations were finalised by the working groups, says Mrs Mailk.

A delegation of 15 women including educationists, medical practitioners, social workers, lawyers, retired and serving government servants, entrepreneurs, students and housewives from AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan attended the conference. Some 40 participants from all the regions of Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir and Ladak attended the conference.

In 2007, women of AJK representing cross section of the civil society made an informal group and shared mutual concerns over the increasing socio-economic instability, deteriorating economic conditions and atrocities being inflicted upon the women of IHK.
Source: Dawn