Pakistan woman rights activist wins Nelson Mandela award

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Tabassum Adnan, a women’s rights activist from Pakistan’s troubled Swat valley has won the prestigious Nelson Mandela award, becoming the second woman from the restive region to gain international recognition after Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Adnan, 39, was bestowed on Thursday with the Nelson Mandela Graca Machel Innovation Award 2016 in Bogota, Colombia.

She said that she dedicates her award to her country. “I am grateful to everyone in my country who supported me in my cause to fight for the rights of women. Today, being a Pakistani woman here I feel proud to have earned a good name for my country,” she told the Dawn newspaper from Colombia soon after receiving her award.

She won the award for the individual activist category on the concluding day of the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) held from April 25-28.

Adnan was married at the age of 13. The marriage which was marked by frequent domestic abuse, ended after 20 years when she gathered the courage to divorce her abusive husband.

From then on, she launched her NGO, Khwendo Jirga, or Sister’s Council, a women-only Jirga where women meet weekly to discuss issues such as honour killings, acid attacks and swara, the practice of giving women as compensation for crimes, the Dawn reported.

She has also received the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in recognition of her untiring efforts and services for women’s rights.

Tabassum is from Swat, once occupied by Taliban, but now known as ancestral place of Malala who was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, for standing up against Taliban by advocating the right of women for education.

She also received the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in recognition of her services for women’s rights.