Pakistan's Gulalai Ismail jointly wins prestigious international award for speaking against Taliban

Published: October 5, 2017
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Pakistan's Gulalai Ismail delivers an acceptance speech after being awarded the Prize for Conflict Prevention for the work of her organization "Aware Girls" promoting women's issues and equality in Pakistan, during the award ceremony of the Jacques Chirac Foundation at the Musee Branly in Paris, France, Nov. 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan's Gulalai Ismail delivers an acceptance speech after being awarded the Prize for Conflict Prevention for the work of her organization "Aware Girls" promoting women's issues and equality in Pakistan, during the award ceremony of the Jacques Chirac Foundation at the Musee Branly in Paris, France, Nov. 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI: Two fearless Asian women who have risked their lives campaigning against religious extremism – one of whom was murdered last month – won a joint award on Thursday for their common courage.

Gulalai Ismail, 31, a peace activist who has faced death threats for speaking out against the Taliban in northwest Pakistan shared the annual Reach All Women in WAR [RAW in WAR] Anna Politkovskaya Award with  Gauri Lankesh, 55, a outspoken Indian newspaper editor, was shot dead outside her home by unidentified assailants in the southern city of Bengaluru, at a time of rising nationalism and intolerance of dissent in the country.

Nearly 2,414 km away in Peshawar, Ismail said she felt numb with grief when she heard about Lankesh’s murder. “It was heartbreaking that an advocate of democracy, a courageous voice was silenced,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Peshawar. “This award recognises our common struggle and courage.”

Indian journalist, activist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

Ismail co-founded the advocacy group Aware Girls when she was 16 to challenge violence and oppression of women in northwest Pakistan. She also trains young peace activists in democracy to counter militant radicalisation.

Ismail has been threatened with violence on social media, branded as Islamophobic for speaking out against extremism and accused of atheism. “My home has been attacked twice,” she said, describing how four armed gunmen tried to force their way into her home when she was delayed at the airport. “I have been branded a traitor.”

The award marks the 11th anniversary of the killing of Politkovskaya, a Russian investigative reporter who uncovered state corruption and rights abuses, especially in Chechnya. She was shot dead in the lobby of her Moscow apartment block at the age of 48 on October 7, 2006.

RAW in WAR, a London-based, non-governmental organisation supporting women human rights defenders and victims of war, also honored Rohingya refugee Jamalida Begum who spoke out publicly about her rape by Myanmar security forces.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • point
    Oct 5, 2017 - 11:10AM

    My only problem with her is that is political taking side of PML-N while standing with ANP. I think she should work without political affiliation. She is always seen also doing political stuff.
    Otherwise, she is doing great job and I hope she will continue to do that. Recommend

  • CountryCircus
    Oct 5, 2017 - 12:23PM

    You will always be blessed if you talk what they want to hear. You will be showered with prestigious awards, ranks if you say what they want to hear. You will be given everything if you convert to their religion. They will always be with you here and in the hereafter as well. Recommend

  • umar
    Oct 5, 2017 - 3:35PM

    People who support Taliban are enemies of Pakistan and Humanity. Kudos to this lady.Recommend

  • Zubair
    Oct 5, 2017 - 3:54PM

    There are two terrorists in our region…America and Taliban. we know about awards against Taliban but where to get award for exposing American terrorism? Recommend

  • Atif
    Oct 6, 2017 - 6:39AM

    Interesting category of awards. Recommend

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