EWI Honors Afghan and Pakistani Women Parliamentarians and the People of Japan
With three foreign ministers and many additional dignitaries in attendance, the EastWest Institute presented the 2012 Leadership Award to Afghan and Pakistani women parliamentarians, and the 2012 International Peace Building Award to the people of Japan. Dr. Fehmida Mirza, first woman speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and Ms. Shinkai Karokhail, a renowned women’s rights activist and member of the Afghan Parliament, received the leadership award for their inspiring records. Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba accepted the International Peace Building Award on behalf of the Japanese people, who have provided critical economic and development assistance to Afghanistan. The reception and dinner took place on Sept. 27, 2012, at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York.
Shezreh Mirza, the award winner’s daughter, and Ms. Donya Aziz, a prominent member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Mirza. Speaking of her mother's firm belief in women's empowerment, Shezreh Mirza quoted her as saying: "Women don't make war. They make peace. Women don't take life. They give life."
In accepting her award, Shinkai Karokhail spoke passionately about the challenges women face in her country: “Half of the population still lives under violence. Half of the population still has no rights to make decisions for itself. Half of the population in my country is still living as second class citizens. What my government should learn is that this half of the population is half the talent, half the energy and half the commitment to peace, and should be taken into account.”
Sarah Perot Presents Ms. Shinkai Karokhail with the H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Values-based Leadership Award.
Dr. Mirza and Ms. Karokhail are the first recipients of the Leadership award named for a strong advocate of women’s rights, H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. The wife of the late Sheikh Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, she founded the first UAE women’s organization in 1973: the Abu Dhabi Society for the Awakening of Women.
These honorees are deeply involved in EWI’s Women, Peace and Security trust-building work in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This awards dinner coincided with EWI’s release of Women, Peace and Security, a report on the first visit of Pakistani women parliamentarians to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul presented the International Peace Building award to Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who accepted on behalf of the people of Japan. “We have a unique and special historic relationship between our two nations,” said Rassoul. He added that his nation is deeply appreciative of Japan’s generous backing for his country’s efforts to rebuild after years of struggle.
Gemba congratulated the women parliamentarians on their commitment and dedication to their countries, and spoke of Japan’s continued support of Afghanistan’s economic development. “We are looking forward to fair elections in 2014 and to supporting sustainable development and reconstruction. It is a long road to prosperity, but you will get there,” he said.
The International Peace Building award recognizes individuals and groups that have made great strides in building peace across borders and cultures. Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and Sergio Vieira de Mello, the late United Nations high commissioner for human rights, are among the previous recipients of the award.
EWI President John Mroz noted that the institute recognizes the role that women play on a global scale, not succumbing to a “policy community that is comfortable in its old ways.”
“There are few more important ways of instigating positive change in the world than the empowerment of women for heightened participation in political decision making including foreign and defense matters,” said Mroz. “Dr. Mirza and Ms. Karokhail are groundbreaking, visionary leaders. Their leadership deserves to be recognized beyond their borders as a beacon of inspiration to others.” He added: “ It is also a great honor to present the prestigious International Peace Building Award to the people of Japan.”