Reforming Jirga(councils) by forming a women's Jirga

Tabassum Adnan and the ‘Khwendo Jirga’
“We’re fed up with male-only Jirgas which decide in favour of men and sacrifice women for their own mistakes,” says Tabassum Adnan.

She is known as the Khwedo Jirge Mashra – leader of the first ever Women Jirga in Pakistan. The Jirga is a community assembly that functions as part of an unofficial Pashtun justice system, which settles local conflicts and grievances. It is traditionally made up of men.

Often, decisions are made against women – without their consent or presence. Most cases involving murder, for example, are settled by giving a girl or woman of the perpetrators family in marriage to an elder member of the victim’s clan or family. In such a situation a girl is not asked her opinion. In other words, she pays the price for a crime she never committed.

This is where Tabassum Adnan's efforts come in. “The Women Jirga evolved as a necessity due to the continuous violence against women in Pashtun society,” she says.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

Objectives:
The principal objectives of sister's council (Khwendo Jirga) are as follows:

- Interest, trust, exposure and analytical approach.

- To work for girls/women’s empowerment and citizens’ participation in governance for creating a socially just, democratic and humane society.

- Peace and prosperity are promoted between people to co-exist and work on reduction of extremism by initiating peace-making, peace keeping & peace building initiatives.

Civil society organizations at local, district and regional level are empowered, protected and strengthened through networking and lobbying and ensuring they play an effective role in local development. Every household receives more effective and efficient assistance.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

This platform is stronger and has extended services to whole KP and northern areas.

Some 20 women groups in the District Swat are gathered under the platform of Khwendo Jirga (the Sisters Council's component). This is the first ever women council in the history of Pakistan that solves women's issues.

The founder of Khwendo Jirga, Tabassum Adnan, has struggled for women rights since 2000.

She has created more than 20 women's groups in different regions of Swat, after she realized that this is a male-dominated society and the situation of women rights and respect is getting worse day by day. Many incidents occurred among which: cutting off the leg of woman, acid throwing on the face of woman, cutting off the nose of woman, human trafficking.

These main factors led Tabssum Adnan to create a strong, official platform. She realized that in most of the areas of Swat and far flung areas there is still the tradition of men Jirga, in which there is no representation of women.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

Activities:
All the activities of the sister's council, held by the sister's council's component Khwendo Jirga, are done on a volunteer basis, without any funding yet from any source.

We have a group of male and female volunteers belonging to every walk of life such as legal, IT, Monitoring, HR, Finance, liaising, etc, who work on a self-support basis to aid the success of the programs.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

Tabassum Adnan is well-known as the Khwedo Jirge Mashra (Leader of the Women Jirga/Council) - the first ever Women Jirga in Pakistan. She says:
"I come from SaiduSharif, the capital of Swat Valley, once the stronghold of the pro-Taliban Tehrik Nifaz-Sharia Mohammadi ('Movement for the Enforcement of Sharia'), and TTP (Tehrik Taliban Pakistan) which was ousted by a full-fledged military operation in 2009.

"Married at age 13, to a man 30 years older, by the age of 20 I was the mother of 3 kids. I myself suffered great hardships in my marital life. I always obeyed a person whom I didn’t want to live with, and was tortured physically and mentally every now and then.

"The Women Jirga evolved as a necessity due to the continuous violence against women in Pashtun society. I am the only woman that has stood against the patriarchal societal structure in Malakand Division to defend women's rights and took the historical step of forming the first ever women Jirga in the history of Pakistan."

CHALLENGES FACED

Death threats.
Recently Adnan had death threats to stop her work and her own community is also against her. But despite all these threats she has been a member of the District Dispute Resolution Council in Swat -a Taliban hit area. Despite this, she is still doing her job fearlessly.

https://www.facebook.com/khwendojirga/?pnref=lhc

LESSONS LEARNT

Not to fear - our fear is our big enemy. We have to take our basic rights and promote peace and prosperity between people to co-exist and work on the reduction of extremism by initiating peace-making, peace keeping & peace building initiatives.

Civil society organizations at local, district and regional level are empowered, protected and strengthened through networking and lobbying and it is ensured that they are playing an effective role in local development.

Every household receiving more effective, efficient services based on their needs. They are benefiting from an appropriate enabling environment and livelihood opportunities for them are improved.

Partner Communities are more attentive to Primary Healthcare, Improved Hygiene and sanitation, Disaster Preparedness/ mitigation and Improved Access to Healthcare Services and quality education.