When the Taliban overtook her village and began brainwashing her friends and family with hate speech; Jan, a young Peshwari woman, felt compelled to stop the them. Later that year, she attended training with our local partner in North East Pakistan, Aware Girls, where she learned about how to effectively combat the Taliban’s Islamist agenda. She now lectures upon countering violent-extremism to children in her community. This is her story:
‘When [the] Taliban started taking over our area, I didn’t know what to do. I knew how to write, so I started writing against them. They used to collect funds for constructing mosques and started conducting three-day trainings [where] they would preach hatred against [the] army and other people. I was never very religious, so I was not attracted to them.’
‘Writing against [the] Taliban did not seem enough. I felt the need to somehow stop [them], so I, along with a few of my friends, started to educate youth about peace and conflict resolution. I advised them to keep away from such groups.’
‘In 2013, I came across Aware Girls, and [began to attend] their training [sessions]. The most beneficial part of their training for me was the clarity they gave on the Taliban and their agenda. I sent some of the youth I work with to their trainings as well. I [then] started giving lectures on peace, conflict resolution and women’s history in the trainings organized by Aware Girls. I would educate [attendees] about what Islam actually says; citing references from Quran and Hadith in order to show them how they were being miss led from religion. Then I would tell them about the importance of education, take them to Peshawar for exposure visits to show them how educated people in developed cities are living peaceful lives.’
‘Gradually, I started conducting sessions with the youth who were being trained by Taliban. One of my students, Imran, who is very dear to me, had started attending [Taliban training] when he was in the 4th grade. Fortunately, because he is so close to me, I was able to revert him and sent him back to regular school. Now he is in the 8th grade. He writes very good poetry and looks after my library, which I have opened for youth to expand their horizons on the world, peace and pluralism.’
‘Things have changed considerably since the operation started. I hope that all this militancy ends soon.’
By donating to this project, you are enabling women like Jan to develop their skillset, and ultimately contribute to the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. With your support, we can provide training to more women like Jan, and in doing so help more young people to find alternatives to violent extremism. Thank you.
Nabila – a young Peshawari woman – feels that “religious teaching is at odds with modern education” in Northern Pakistan.
This is because the Taliban holds great influence over her community, and argue ''that educating girls spoils the mind”. As such, Peshwari girls educated above primary level are few and far between, and many live in perpetual fear of their local Mullahs as “they could give you Fatwa.”
Despite the constant threat of violence and persecution however, Nabila has begun to attend training sessions with Aware Girls - a local organisation partnered with Peace Direct – who are teaching her and other young Pakistanis how to promote peace, tolerance, and women's rights in their communities.
“I am young and there are other young boys and girls who are trained. We speak for our rights and the right of other young girls. We challenge the teaching of the Mullahs, that way it may take many years, but we can change the attitude.”
Your support helps to create opportunities for young people like Nabila by developing their skills and contributing towards the health, safety, and peacefulness of Peshwari communities.
With your support, we can provide training to more young people like Nabila, and in doing so help them find alternatives to extremism and build peace within their communities.
''I used to be very shy and cold not face people or raise my voice'' says Johi. She's a young woman from northern Pakistan, a place where the Taliban have great influence, and draw many young people into a life of violence. Their conservative views mean many women lead difficult lives.
''I was married at the age of 15 when I was still at school. After a few years of marriage, my husband lost his eyesight in an accident. The responsibility to take care of my husband and provide for my whole family fell on my shoulders. I was neither literate nor skilled and did not know where to go or what to do''.
Having been married so young, Johi faced a very difficult future, made even more difficult by violent militant groups in the area, and their views on women.
''One of my relatives helped me to become a health worker. Meanwhile, militants in my area forbid women to come out of their homes. This was a hard time''.
But despite the difficulties, and constant threat of violence, Johi persisted. She started attending training sessions with Aware Girls, a local organisation offering training in peace, tolerance, and women's rights.
''Gradually I started speaking in a smaller group and then a larger group [about women's rights]. Now, I have become a trainer myself and train womenin the community on hygiene, nutrition and an income support programme.
A few years back, one of my relatives was radicalised by listening to a local radio channel. She would not allow the younger girls in the family to go to school, or listen to music. When I found out about this I used my training to speak to her, and convince her of the value of allowing girls to go to school, and express themselves.''
Your support creates opportunities for people like Johi to develop their skills and contribute to health, safety, and peace in their communities. With your support, we can provide training to more young women like Johi, and help them practice peace and enable others to embrace peace within their communities. Like Johi, every individual who benefits from this program can have an exponential impact and inspire others to find alternatives to violent extremism.
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