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05. November 2010

Mossarat Austrian Embassy 1

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Mossarat Qadeem lectures at the Austrian Embassy in London, at the presentation Women SAVE Pakistan, November 2010

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Women SAVE Pakistan

Empowering Women to Sensitize and Mobilize Against Extremism - Mossarat Qadeem

On Thursday, October 21, Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of the PAIMAN Trust and SAVE Pakistan Coordinator, spoke on SAVE Pakistan’s activities and the vital role women can play in combating violent extremism at the Austrian Embassy in London. Dr. Emil Brix, Austrian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, hosted the event. Ms. Qadeem, who has over twenty years of experience in working with susceptible youth in stricken regions in the Northwest Frontier and FATA provinces, spoke about her experiences and the best-practice strategies she has developed for combating violent extremism.

Pakistan, a nuclear power without electrical power, is a particularly fertile breeding ground for violent extremism due to the dangerous combination of poverty, corruption, illiteracy, and, most recently, natural disaster. When combined with the enduring border struggles and domestic religious tension, youths in Pakistan may turn to extremism as an outlet for their grievances. Ms. Qadeem underscored the fact that while most do not think that women can play a role in ending extremism, because they are part of the problem, they must be part of the solution.

At the moment, cultural restrictions on women’s movement mean that they do not have the necessary resources to act as peace-builders. However, if a true leadership structure is put in place, women in Pakistan will be able to play a key role in identifying extremists and reintegrating them into society. The PAIMAN Trust has established centers for conflict prevention and peace building throughout FATA and the NWFP, where they train female and male university students and women in the local communities. Through these centers, they have been able to reach out to 35,000 youths and over 2,000 women. Through the women, they were then able to identify a number of young boys who were at different stages of radicalization in established extremist structures.

Ms. Qadeem and her team work with the boys’ mothers and sisters to understand the role they can play in countering the process of radicalization, and to explain that their activities have nothing to do with Islam. When Ms. Qadeem began working with local women after four boys were forcibly abducted from the Swat Valley and made to join Mullah Fazlullah’s organization, it was the first time that women had been addressed in the region. Through this group of women, the PAIMAN Trust reached out to 75 boys in the Swat Valley being targeted by extremists, of whom 17 are now under the care of the PAIMAN Trust and who are receiving education, job training, and are being reintegrated into society.

Ms. Qadeem has also personally dealt with the Taliban. After two of her health workers were kidnapped by the Taliban, she entered the Taliban leader’s all-male compound to negotiate with him. After forty minutes, he had not only agreed to free her workers, but also pledged his protection for her activities in the region. SAVE Pakistan has teamed up with the PAIMAN Trust to conduct SAVE trainings throughout Swat and FATA. The trainings provide women with the tools they need to identify and challenge extremist ideologies in their surroundings, and to empower them to seek alternatives to radical discourse. These trainings have been highly successful: when Ms. Qadeem asked a colleague in Swat to identify 10-15 widows to take part in the training, she found 54 women waiting for her when she arrived. A lively question and answer session followed the presentation. Read our blog for more quotes from Mossarat Qadeem:


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