Farida Afridi, co-founder of SAWERA (Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas), was brutally murdered on 4th July, 2012, following death threats.
SAWERA's vision is to develop a just society based on equality, indiscrimination, honour and dignity, peace and security for all, and where all individuals are respected, regardless of status, tribe, ethnicity or religion.
Based in Peshawar, and operating in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), promoting women's social and economic empowerment is a constant challenge, and work can be fraught with danger.
The conflicts in Pakistan's northern borders with Afghanistan have severely damaged the local economy and adversely affected development in the area. In addition, existing cultural norms in FATA have bitter implications for tribal women. The literacy ratio of women in FATA is very low, compared to other parts of Pakistan. Health facilities are not commonly available for women and children. Where they are available, women do not have access.
It is not culturally-acceptable in FATA for women to work and become involved in the development process. Due to tribal customs and traditions, women are restricted, unable to fulfil their potential and forbidden from taking part in decision-making processes.
SAWERA seeks to overcome these obstacles and to enhance women's capacities in the social and economic fields and to ensure their participation in the developmental process.
Since its formation in 2004, SAWERA has run projects in local villages to help men to understand the benefits of protecting women's rights and to empower marginalized people. They have established a small shop to help empower women economically, provided flood relief to 200 flood-affected families, and helped provide a regular supply of clean drinking water for three villages.
SAWERA also set up Information Technology centres, and have been teaching IT and computer skills, with segregated classes for female and male students. The female students are enrolled by their parents and SAWERA members are careful to address any reservations and concerns the parents may have about sending their daughters to the IT centre. In addition they have run training events for women regarding peace and security, and also raising awareness about women's and children's rights in the light of Islam and the Pakistan Constitution.
SAWERA's basic aim is to increase the capacity of marginalized groups, particularly women and youth, and to ensure women's participation at all levels.
All funds donated to the Farida Fund will be passed to SAWERA, minus cost of monetary transfer.