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New forum to give voice to tribal women

PESHAWAR: A group of women rights activists and educationists have formed a forum to raise the issues of tribal women and highlight their achievements as well.

The newly formed forum has been named Takra Qabailee Khwenday (brave tribal sisterhood). Zainab Azmat, a teacher at Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar, hailing from South Waziristan Agency, says that Takra Qabailee Khwenday (TQK) means the voice that is raised to point out some problem. It has also several other meanings in Pashto culture, she adds.

The purpose of setting up this forum is to raise voice for the tribal women and also highlight their achievements since they have remained voiceless and almost invisible so far.

Maryam Bibi of Khwendo Kor organisation, women rights activist Rukhshinda Naz, Shahida Shah, Sameena Afridi, America Bibi, Mehreen Afridi and many other women mostly hailing from tribal areas have formed the forum to raise voice jointly for the issues of tribal women.

“Although the body was formed just five months ago on self-help basis in Peshawar, the number of its members has already reached to about 50,” Ms Azmat told Dawn.

The TQK as its first effort to highlight the problems of women from the conflict-affected tribal areas held a meeting last month with the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights.

In its charter of demands, the TQK has asked the government to allocate quota for women from Fata in parliament, saying if women in settled areas have been provided 33 per cent reserved seats why the women of Fata have been deprived so far from this representation.The standing committee assured the TQK representatives that it would work to stop violation of human rights. “We also demand that at least women should be appointed in the offices of Election Commission of Pakistan in Fata during the upcoming elections,” said Ms Azmat.

She said that the body also wanted that women officers and judges should be appointed in FCR Tribunal so that women from Fata could freely come up with their problems without any fear or reservations.

Ms Azmat said that they had also requested the committee to propose to the government that political administration should also select elderly women from Fata in the jirgas formed by the administration.

“Elderly women just like aged men know more about the problems of the area so why they should not be included in the tribal elder jirgas formed by the government to resolve local issues,” she said.

Ms Azmat said that the forum would not only give voice to educated tribal women but also to those women, who had no education but faced some problems. The forum would provide support to them in highlighting their problems, she added.

TQK would highlight the stories of those brave tribal women, who in the face of militancy played positive role in their areas, Ms Azmat said.

Source: Dawn