Country Coordinators Zunera Rais in Pakistan, Fatema Kohistani in Afghanistan, Padmini Ghosh in India
Refelcting on 2017, we see victories and defeats, triumphs and difficulties. As space for civil society continues to shrink and threats to women human rights defenders (WHRD) grows, we find strength in the increasing solidarity for the South Asian and global feminist movement. WHRD’s are finding creative ways to maximize limited resources through networks of allies, like the WRN, and applying creative strategies to subvert patriarchal repression.
In September, women students at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) protested the shameful lack of protection women have in universities and the culture of victim blaming in cases of sexual assault. Women around the world broke the silence by sharing their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace in the explosive #MeToo campaign. In November and December, the 16 Days of Activism campaign started conversations and raised awareness of gender based violence (GBV) in urban and rural areas alike in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 2017 was the year of breaking silence around GBV, the year of women standing up to say “enough".
In the Women’s Regional Network, women work together across divisions of ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, caste, and across generations to raise our voices for the common goal of women’s equality and lasting peace. Breaking down these barriers is critical to building a just, lasting peace in our communities, countries, and region.
We find hope, renewed purpose, and energy in engaging young women and men for peace. We have found that young people are excited and inspired by a network of Pakistani, Indian, and Afghan women coming together for peace. Students in our Women, Peace and Security Online course have a deep desire to learn more about women’s struggle for justice and peace from the generation before and are learning that there is power in non-violence.
As we end this year, we want to extend our gratitude to each one of you who have been part of this last year journey, those who have joined the WRN this year, and those who have continued to support WRN through all its ebbs and flows. We enjoyed crafting a newsletter to collect some of our achievements this year. We hope you will enjoy looking back with us and looking forward to what 2018 will bring.
We still have a lot of work to do in the years to come as we continue to act for justice and dignity, peace and equality. We hope to see our visions for a peaceful and just South Asia will come closer to manifesting into reality. We know this, for the present and for the future - we are stronger and more courageous when we stand together.
Happy New Year,
The Women’s Regional Network