Pakistan women awarded Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention
PARIS: Two Pakistani women, Gulalai Ismail and Saba Ismail, who co-founded the Aware Girls non-governmental organisation which advocates the rights of women in Pakistan have won the prestigious Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention.
The award given by the Jacques Chirac Foundation founded by the former French President during a ceremony in Paris on Thursday.
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Aware Girls has fought for women’s rights and equal access to education, health and other services since 2002. They were recognised for their contribution to develop a culture of peace and non-violence through the action of women and youth in Pakistan.
The prize was awarded by the former French minister for culture Christine Albanel in a ceremony held in Quai Branly Museum in Paris.
The ceremony was attended by French President Francois Hollande, Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moin-ul-Haque, intellectuals, members of civil society, diplomats and media persons in large number.
President Hollande, while speaking on the occasion, paid tribute to Aware Girls for empowerment of the women. He said that Aware Girls was giving women the opportunity to participate in and monitor elections, provide education to women and economically empower them by providing micro-credit facilities.
He congratulated the recipients on receiving the Chirac prize and appreciated their work towards empowerment of women in the conflict prone areas.
The Chirac Foundation strives for peace through five advocacy programmes which include conflict prevention. The prize for conflict prevention has been awarded every year since 2009.
The activism has not been without risks. Gulalai Ismail, founder of Aware Girls, told France 24.
“You try to change the system and those who are beneficiaries of the old system try to resist and want to hurt you. They do propaganda against you so to suppress you. They scare you so much that you go silent.”