NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Workshops - Seminars
"WAITING WOMEN OF KASHMIR"
Syeda Hameed, former member of the Planning Commission, extended her support for the repeal of the draconian AFSPA and called for policies that bring about a healing touch to the people of Kashmir. She was speaking at a symposium titled “Waiting Women of Kashmir” after the presentation of the research report titled, “Vulnerabilities of Half-Widows of Jammu and Kashmir: Role of the Judiciary, State, Civil Society and Community” held at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, on 5th June, 2015. The launch was followed by a discussion with scholar activist Sehba Hussain and Dr. Syeda Hameed, former member of the planning commission; moderated by Urvashi Butalia, founder of the feminist publishing house, Zubaan Books. The symposium was attended by over 100 participants from different walks of life.
During the last three decades, Kashmir has witnessed immense human suffering on account of militancy and militarization. Since the beginning of the insurgency, thousands of Kashmiris have gone missing. Among the disappeared men, there were many who were married, leaving behind wives now known as ‘half-widows’. These ‘half-widows’, are struggling to cope and adjust themselves to their new identity derived from the conflict in the region. Many of these vulnerable women are left to rebuild their lives and to face the struggle of everyday existence in the absence of male members in the family. The issue of ‘half-widows’ is symptomatic of how women in conflict zones are the most vulnerable object, of both, the patriarchal and traditional society and a militarized state.
The study conducted by Paul D’Souza, in collaboration with AMAN Trust, is based on responses from 150 households of half widows geographically spread across nearly 140 villages of Jammu and Kashmir. It investigates the multiple vulnerabilities experienced by half-widows and how they been impacted, through the framework of “multidimensional vulnerabilities”. The framework explores mainly five Dimensions of Vulnerability, i.e. Gender, Social, Economic, Cultural and Health, and the degree of vulnerability in each case. The study also examines various supports for women caught in conflict from social networks, state actors and non-state actors in their state of vulnerability and presents recommendations for various stakeholders for positive interventions in mitigating the vulnerabilities of half-widows.
Being neither a widow, nor a married one, they experience a life of ambiguity and a long period in the state of liminality. The plight of “half widows” is best captured in the words of a young mother: “I don’t know how to make him (6 year old son) understand the reality (of the disappearance of his father) because I told him that he has gone out of Kashmir for work. I don’t want him to experience the trauma I am experiencing.”
Responding to the findings of the study, Sahba Hussain highlighted the need to focus on the political context of Kashmir that has produced half-widows. She also urged the gathering to go beyond the suffering of half widows and also bring out the strong voices of women crying for justice and engaging in the struggle and resistance to forces of violence. Urvashi Butalia, admitted that the suffering of women in the conflict ridden Kashmir was initially ignored, but expressed happiness that in recent times there are a lot of writings emerging from Kashmir and of late the voices of Kashmiri women are also being published is various literary forms.
NATIONAL SEMINAR ON SOCIAL HEALING THROUGH HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT
A two-day National Seminar on Social Healing through Holistic Development was organised by the Department of Tribal Studies of Indian Social Institute on 9-10 April, 2015 at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. The Seminar was attended by 63 Trainers of Trainees from eight states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat and Rajasthan. These Trainers have been training and guiding the community leaders, teachers and youth in resolving conflicts and establishing peace in their respective states.
The objective of the Seminar was threefold: (1) to evaluate the impact and usefulness of the ‘Peace and Conflict’ project, (2) to learn from different challenges faced during 2012-15 and (3) to plan for the way forward and strategize action. The state representatives shared the success stories of resolving conflicts and establishing peace in communities. They also looked into the failures and challenges they faced and explored alternative ways of solving the problems in the next phase.
To enable the trainers to understand the multi-dimensions of communalism and conflict in the present context and to equip them with skills of conflict-resolution and peace-building, five resource persons were invited to speak on different topics such as Mechanism of Democracy and Human Rights (by Fr. Joy Karyampuram, an Advocate), Constitutional Provisions for Marginalized Communities, Impact and Wary Forward (by Dr. Denzil Fernandes), Role of Women in Community Building and Their Status (by Dr. Archna Sinha), Upsurge of Atrocities against Deprived Communities and Their Future (by Mr. Ratnesh Kumar) and Struggle of Tribal Communities and Future (by Prof. Ganga Sahay Meena from JNU).
The seminar concluded with participants’ renewed commitment to continue to work for peace and harmony as trainers and agents of peace and harmony. With growing tensions across the country with strong flavor of intolerance the need to build armies of peace agents was reaffirmed. In view of this need, the objective of the next phase of the project was briefly spelled out in which Shanti and Sadbhavna Manch (Peace and Harmony Clubs) will be formed in schools and villages constituting 5000 youths and community leaders in eight states.
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