| Nov 27, 2017
''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.