US honours rights activist Jalila Haider with International Women of Courage Award

WASHINGTON: United States Department of State on Wednesday announced the recipients of the International Women of Courage Award for the year 2020 to honor twelve women across the world. Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer Jalila Haider is also on the list.

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According to a statement uploaded on their official website, the award recognises women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment at great personal risk.

The department said that Haider was the “Iron Lady” of Balochistan, who had founded a non-profit to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children. “She has fought against violence against women in public spaces,” the statement added.

“She specialises in defending women’s rights and provides free counseling and legal services to poverty-affected women. The first female attorney of her Hazara community, Haider led a peaceful hunger strike to recognize the right to life for the Hazaras,” it noted.

Other women named on the list include Zarifa Ghafari (Afghanistan), Lucy Kocharyan (Armenia), Shahla Humbatova (Azerbaijan), Ximena Galarza (Bolivia), Claire Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Sayragul Sauytbay (China), Susanna Liew (Malaysia), and Amaya Coppens (Nicaragua).

Haider is a rights lawyer providing free legal services to women in poverty. In October last year, Haider was named among the 100 most influential women of 2019 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Besides being a vocal activist for the rights of women, she is also the founder of We the Humans, a non-profit organisation working with local communities to provide opportunities for vulnerable women.

Taking to social networking platform Twitter after the BBC announcement last year, Haider had expressed profound joy at being being named in the list, saying she was honored by the mention.

“Wow, This is an honour for me that I am among the @BBC100women list 2019 from Paksitan. I want to congratulate Parveen Ahanger @_APDP also to be the among the list. More power to the brave women of Kashmir,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Looking back into the past leads to the realisation that the politics of conflict, war and destruction is interconnected with Patriarchy. This is the time now that the world should accept the future as female,” Haider said.

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