2015 Women’s Conference

This high-level conference took place under the aegis of the noted British MEP Dr Sajjad Karim who has kindly accepted to host the event. It was essential for this conference to take place given the worsening cases of violence against women and girls in Kashmir due to the general break down of the rule of law.

For the first session of the Conference, we have adopted a roundtable format by choosing half a dozen themes central to the debate on female empowerment. For each theme, we invited a selected participant and asked her/him to provide a brief ten-minute presentation on the chosen theme. For the second session, we have taken the process one’s stage further and have invited participants to join one of the two working groups. The discussion groups of up to 20 members were a valuable way of generating fresh ideas and of defining a critique of the status quo. Participants were able to do this firstly, because the group members brought to the discussion a range of different points of view, all of which have been examined in detail and, secondly, because it encouraged group members to think ‘outside the box’ and to come up with original and innovative solutions.

The conference participants examined the barriers to women’s empowerment and proposed measures to overcome some of the more significant of these barriers and assessed the potential impact on the struggle for self-determination of enhanced status for women. These series of actions are designed to promote a more dynamic social role for women in Jammu and Kashmir and which can be supported through the increased involvement of the international community. This has been achieved by designing a programme which encouraged a free and unrestricted exchange of ideas and opinions in a neutral environment. Such an environment has allowed a wide range of possible solutions to be shared, debated, and analysed by participants on how to best address the issue of women’s empowerment.

The Conference concluded with the preparation of a final report and a list of possible projects which can be developed to a point where they can be presented to donors for funding. These projects address the challenges confronting women in the sectors concerned. The report also pointed to the need to ensure the safety of women and girls in the region through all available means, such as access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services. It called on the international community and the parties involved in the dispute to take appropriate measures on the prohibition of all forms of violence.