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WDN Member Sumaira Ishfaq Receives Women of Courage Award
Washington, DC–Sumaira Ishfaq, a WDN Member from Pakistan, is being honored with the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition’s (ARWC) 2012 Women of Courage award. Awardees from throughout Asia were selected for the award due to their commitment to advocating for women’s rights in rural societies throughout the region. The announcement of awardees was made in conjunction with the International Day of Rural Women.
Ishfaq serves as the Women’s Rights Program Coordinator for the Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), a nongovernmental organization that works to promote and protect human rights in rural areas of Pakistan. Through her work, Ishfaq empowers citizens of marginalized rural communities to lead, especially women, youth and minorities, through livelihoods skills training, legal empowerment, democracy, peace education and human rights advocacy.
In addition to her work with PODA, Ishfaq has worked with government officials from Pakistan and the United Nations on projects to end violence against women by educating the public about existing gender legislation. Ishfaq has also conducted trainings for women about how to become active in public life, their rights under existing legislation and ways to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Ishfaq also participates in advocacy campaigns for the development of legislation to further protect women’s rights in Pakistan.
Recently, Ishfaq started a new project to increase the agricultural skills of rural women in the Muzaffragarh district of South Punjab, Pakistan. Through this project, Ishfaq will train women to acquire new techniques that will enhance their ability to cultivate and sell their products while building a network of rural women farmers.
In addition to being recognized for her work on a regional level through ARWC’s Women of Courage award, Ishfaq was also chosen to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP). WPSP was launched in Juneat Wellesley College “to build a generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership in their governments and change the way global solutions are forged.”