Women’s Resilience and Resolve in Northwest Pakistan: Championing Change in the Face of Extremism

December 09, 2015
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

About the Event

The Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) of Pakistan, which form part of the country’s northern border with Afghanistan, have long suffered from war, militancy, and economic deprivation, creating fertile ground for the “swift justice” and sharia regulations of militant Islamist groups.  While the Pakistani army has had some success in wiping out extremist elements in the region, the Taliban and other Islamist forces still pose a significant threat. In this context of political instability, women and girls have often been the primary victims of extremist movements that have gained ground through patriarchal and discriminatory means. The suppression of women’s rights, however, has only added to the courage and resolve of those who have stepped forward to demand gender equality, often at the risk of isolation, torture, or even death.  In her presentation, social activist Shad Begum outlined the challenges to women’s political and economic empowerment in PATA and highlighted those change-makers who are surmounting them. Drawing on her experience in the region, she provided recommendations for how best to equip emerging women leaders with the knowledge, skills, and networks needed to build a more equitable future in PATA and Pakistan.


Ms. Shad Begum

Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

moderated by

Zerxes Spencer

International Forum for Democratic Studies

1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Telephone: 202-378-9675

Twitter: Follow @ThinkDemocracy and use #NEDEvents to join the conversation.

Speaker Bio:

Ms. Shad Begum is founding director of the Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), an organization working toward the economic and political empowerment of communities in underserved areas of Pakistan. Under her leadership, ABKT has mobilized scores of community-based organizations to engage with the government and has trained thousands of women in different skills and trades. Ms. Begum previously worked with the UN Human Settlements Program as a consultant for the “Building Gender Ladder Project,” as well as with UNDP’s Women’s Political Participation Program. She contested local elections in 2001 as an independent candidate and served as a district councilor for five years in Lower Dir.  She is an Ashoka Lifetime Fellow and the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Department of State’s “International Woman of Courage Award” (2012) and the “Prize for Creativity in Rural Life,” awarded by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (2008). During her fellowship, Ms. Begum is laying the groundwork for the establishment of a Center for Women’s Democratic Development in northwest Pakistan.