With strengthening democracy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries have witnessed increased women’s participation in civic and political processes.
Women of both countries have played tremendous role in countering radicalization and violent extremism within their countries. Despite their increasing participation in civic process to counter radicalization, efforts to document the roles women play in countering radicalization and building peace in both countries haven’t been made, and women have remain excluded from policy level peace talks.
People-people contact play an important role in fostering peace, but not much has been done to bring together women of Afghanistan and Pakistan despite the big learning opportunities and socio-political commonalties in the issue radicalization and violent extremism. Because of limited media coverage given to women peace activists, there is little awareness among public about the tremendous role women play in countering radicalization.
Women’s networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular play an important role in preventing violent extremism; if provided with space and support, these networks could play a greater role in preventing violent extremism and building peace.
Aware Girls is an organization led by young women in northwest Pakistan, working towards women’s empowerment, gender equality, and peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Aware Girls was established in 2002, by Gulalai Ismail (age 16) and a group of her peers, to create a platform for young women, to strengthen their leadership skills and become empowered agents of change and peace. In accordance with their mission, the organization’s board is comprised of young women who are leaders in their communities. Aware Girls proposed to bring women peace activists together to document their work, learn from each other and develop a strategy on women’s roles in preventing violent extremism and building peace.
They are awarded for their continued work in facilitating cross-border peace initiatives between Pakistan and Afghanistan through the engagement and inclusion of girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 35 in peace processes.