By News Desk
UNITED NATIONS, Geneva—A human rights defender for Kashmir presided over a Africa development event on the sidelines of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, where Kashmiri women were presented as an example of how women can take charge of their destinies in conflict zones.
Kashmir lobbyist Ahmed Quraishi chaired a meeting for the Organization for Communication in Africa and the Promotion of Economic Cooperation at Palais des Nations in Geneva. The event was held on the sidelines of the 31st session of UN Human Rights Council. Quraishi is the executive director of the international Islamabad-based lobbying group YFK.
The ambassadors of Morocco and Benin and Africa development experts Simone Ovart Bruno from Zonta International, Nadia El-Iraki from Morocco and Valerie Bichelmeier from Make Mothers Matter spoke at the event.
Sustainable democratic systems, Quraishi said, are not possible without effective participation and representation of women. He dismissed the notion that women equality and parity were secondary to other urgent concerns in conflict zones. “Equal participation of women and men in reforms and development is key and can’t be relegated to a second position,” he told human rights defenders attending the event.
He said Africa elected its first female black president in 2005 but still had a long way ahead. He gave examples in how Kashmiri women have stepped forward in the war-torn region of Kashmir and said India’s 68-year-old military occupation forced women to take part in the political, social and economic aspects of Kashmir freedom movement.
The eight-member Kashmir Delegation for UNHRC’s 31st session consists of Altaf Hussain Wani-Delegation leader and senior Kashmir freedom leader, senior APHC leader-Syed Faiz Naqshbandi and Ishtiyaq Hameed, senior Kashmir freedom leader Mir Tahir Masood, senior woman Kashmiri leader Mrs. Shamim Shawl, Ahmed Quraishi-Executive Director Youth Forum For Kashmir (YFK); an international Kashmir Lobbying Group, Prof. Shagufta Ashraf-human rights defender working with women & children and Zartasha Niazi-human rights defender.
Youth Forum For Kashmir (YFK) is Pakistan’s first pro-Kashmir, registered and nonpartisan International lobbying group led by young Kashmiris and Pakistanis working to ensure justice to Kashmiris living under Indian-military occupation.