The South Asian region has been plagued by ongoing inter and intra state conflicts. In each of these conflict situations women are often the most vulnerable at several levels. Women are not only killed and murdered during conflicts but may be maimed, tortured, abducted, kidnapped, ‘disappeared’, raped and otherwise molested by ‘opposing’ armies or forces. A majority of refugees, internally displaced and dislocated are women who then have the added burden of being responsible for children, the elderly, the infirm and the disabled. The vulnerability of women is compounded when expressions of identity are articulated as ‘tradition’, ‘culture’ and ‘norms’ which are often imposed on women as markers, bearers and symbols of ‘otherness’.  

ASR Programme on Women, Peace and Conflict

ASR has consistently addressed the issue of women, peace and conflict and has been a part of or has initiated several processes within Pakistan, in South Asia and internationally. It consistently raised the issue of the war crimes by the Pakistani military in 1971 and worked the partition of 1947 as it particularly impacted on women. ASR was primarily responsible for initiating people to people interaction between India and Pakistan building on initiatives undertaken by members in 1979. The international concern expressed in the Platform for Action of the World Conference for Women (Beijing 1995) was given impetus by a coming together of women in South Asia to initiate the ‘SAARC Women for Peace’ in 1996. The ‘NGO SAARC Women for Peace’ was coordinated by ASR. This process resulted in several initiatives. At the international level this included an engagement with the process towards Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 and the International Criminal Court. Within South Asia the NGO SAARC Women for Peace formalized itself as the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (1999) and the South Asian Women Institute for Peace Studies (later formulated as South Asian Women for Peace). ASR was a member of the core group of WIPSA in Pakistan and has been the coordinator for SAWP since 1999.

South Asian Women for Peace Programme 2003-2009

SAWP organized several activities on the Peace and Justice theme at the Asian Social Forum in 2003 specifically focusing on ‘State Formation and the Issue of Citizenship, and Inclusive/Exclusive Identity Formation. Subsequently it worked with the Asian Peace Alliance organized several activities on women, peace and security in the World Social Forum in 2004. SAWP in collaboration with IWSL/ASR and other South Asian networks and Forums has conducted training and conceptual courses on Women and/in:  Inter and Intra State Conflicts; Citizenship and Nation; Divisions, Partitions and Borders; Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Conflict particularly SCR 1325; Conflict Anticipation, Prevention, Resolution, Transformation and Reconstruction. Research interests address issues of Citizenship and Conflict; Partitions and Borders; Conflict Mappings and National Building and Social Contracts.

Programmes conducted in the year 2010 onwards:

  1. A Regional Conference on Women, Peace and Conflict (with IWSL)
  2. Four conceptual Courses/Consultations on Women, Peace and Conflict (with IWSL)
  3. Trainings on Conflict Resolution and Women in Peace Processes
  4. District/grass roots trainings on Conflict Prevention, Resolution, and Reconstruction and the Inclusion of Women in Peace Processes. These were implemented in 14 districts of Pakistan and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. (with ASR)
  5. People to people dialogues across divides (with ASR)
  6. Research areas include a Mapping of Intra State Conflicts with particularly emphasis on Women, and ‘Living on the Edges, Women and Borders’.