By Lal Jan Afridi, Technical Adviser/M&E, SAWERA, July 2013
Farida Afridi was brutally murdered by militants at Jamrud Khyber Agency, on 4th July 2012. This followed threats related to her work for women rights.
Farida Afridi was a brave woman - a women's rights and peace advocate. She was 26 years old, with a master's degree in women and gender studies.
She belonged to a very poor and marginalized family, but she was committed to social change and economic emancipation for women from the platform of SAWERA.
The Inspiration Behind SAWERA
Farida Afridi, a dedicated women rights defender and active social worker working for the welfare, development and rights of tribal women, established Society for Appraisal & Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA) along with her other colleagues.
SAWERA is women-led NGO working in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in particular, and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in general.
The inspiration behind the establishment of SAWERA happened when some like-minded educated women of FATA gathered together to think about developmental interventions, and felt that marginalized population of society are repeatedly ignored by authorities.
The outcome of these deliberations and efforts was the creation of SAWERA in 2004.
SAWERA is a voluntary, not-for-profit organization dedicated to social and economic development with due regard for gender mainstreaming and social protection, especially focusing the backward areas and the marginalized population of the communities, like women and children.
The founding members have rich experience in social engineering, participatory development, disaster management, gender mainstreaming, and poverty alleviation initiatives through resource management in a systematic approach.
Being the co-founding member of (SAWERA), Farida Afridi always worked to empower women of the marginalized communities of FATA, she always worked to educate women through quality education with modern methods.
She always talked about the women's health issues and pressured authorities to take practical steps for positive reforms.
In an interview with a private television channel, Farida spoke out:
"We need reforms in almost every field, especially in women's sectors”.
Farida Afridi Memorial Library
A Scholarship for Tribal Area Women
Society for Appraisal & Women Empowerment & Rural Areas (SAWERA) arranged an inauguration ceremony of the Farida Afridi Memorial Library at Government Elementary College for Women (GECW), Khyber Agency, at Jamrud on 31, Janurary 2013.
All the students and teachers participated at ceremony.
The Pakistan women scholars who have received the Annemarie Schimmel scholarship in past and have returned back to Pakistan have decided to work for the betterment of the society and promote the cause of education in Pakistan. These women scholars have been awarding the Zoe Bibi education Awards each year.
This year, the award was given in the name of Shaheed Farida Afridi Scholarship for the tribal area women.
Takkra Qabilee Khwenday (TQK), a forum of civil society organizations and individuals dedicated to empowering tribal women, decided to dedicate this year's scholarship award to Farida Afridi, and educate two girls of Khyber Agency.
Afterwards, SAWERA conducted meetings with education department of Khyber Agency and the Elementary College Administration, but they refused and said that all the students of Elementary College already getting scholarships; therefore, according to policy, one student cannot receive two scholarships at a time.
However, after consultation with college administration, it has been finalized that the Farida Afridi Memorial Library will be established on the college premises.
Testimonies to Farida Afridi
The programme formally started from the recitation of Holy Quran, student of B-Ed, Ms. Gul Naz, performed Tilawat-E-Quran.
Lal Jan Afridi, of SAWERA, told the participants about Farida Afridi and her commitment and working efforts to empower women of tribal areas both socially and economically.
He further highlighted that the Farida Afridi Memorial Library is also the project of Takkra Qabilee Khwenday (TKQ) which is dedicated to Shaheed Farida Afridi for her efforts, as she struggled for women's rights.
“Farida Afridi was the inspiration and she was the really change agent; her efforts and dedication are unforgettable for me and for every sensitive person as well.
I strongly desire that every girl/student act like Farida Afridi.
I first heard about TQK – which will be working to empower women of the tribal region and will raise their voice for peace and development, as well as women's rights.”
Madam Khalida Adib - Teacher of Farida Afridi and Principal of the Government Elementary College for Women (GECW).
“I thank TQK members for the outstanding donations of books, because we really need it.
We also condemn the brutal killing of innocent Farida Afridi, as she was the brilliant student of our college during her stay with us”.
Madam Safia Khaton – Vice Principal, Government Elementary College for Women (GECW).
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About Takkra Qabailee Khwenday (TQK)
Related article: Empowering the Tribal Sisters - 'Takra Qabayali Khwende
Takkra Qabailee Khwenday (TQK) is an initiative to provide forum to all those interested in changing the situation of tribal women, children, and communities.
TQK's newly established forum of civil society organization is for those individuals who really want to contribute and utilize their energies for the social, political, and economical development of tribal women. TQK is an open forum and everyone can become member of this forum.
TQK creates spaces for them to come together, to discuss issues, evolve strategies, raise voices, and influence government policies, laws, and resources to become more equal and just.
TQK is also making efforts to accelerate the developmental and political decision- making process in FATA to produce opportunities and bring FATA to the mainstream.
“The vision of the forum is to enable tribal women to contribute to and influence political, developmental, and social decision-making process for FATA”.
“To create space through an alliance of civil society, academia, and enterprising individuals to empower tribal women”.
- To provide a forum to all those interested in improving the status of tribal women.
- To establish strategic linkages with individuals, civil society networks, unions, professional associations, academia, and women’s state machineries for taking joint positions.
- To create spaces, raise voices, and influence laws and government policies.
Governance and legal reforms: To oversee the implementation of recent reforms in FATA administration status, particularly their impacts on women. Moreover, there is also need to empower women to influence policy-making for future reforms. TQK will provide a forum to oversee and lobby for governance related reforms in FATA.
Peace and Tolerance
TQK is a forum to discuss and analyze the impacts of armed conflict and militancy on women in FATA and adjacent areas, lobby for inclusion of women in peace building processes, and facilitate capacity development of tribal women in conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation skills.
TQK supports initiatives that will bring change in the economic conditions of women. Through discussions, TQK will find ways to improve the living standards of women in FATA.
TQK supports improvement in education infrastructure in FATA, in particular, provisions for connecting female education and livelihoods.
TQK will facilitate the initiation of dialogue on improving and establishing better educational opportunities, and increased accessibility of education for all sections of the society in FATA.
Higher literacy rates and quality education of tribal women will not only create politically aware and active citizens, but will also increase tolerance and economic opportunities.