Naheed Afridi

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Enhancing Women’s Access to Public Services through Developing Women LeadershipPakistan

Naheed Afridi is from the Khyber District of the newly merged areas of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, also known as FATA. She has a master’s degree in philosophy and has been working for the rights of women from ex-FATA for the last thirteen years. As the founding member of Takkra Qabali Khawnday, the first-ever network working for women's political empowerment in ex-FATA, she has led the FATA reform process, conducted press conferences, and led protest rallies. Afridi also was honored as the first woman to run for a general seat in an election for the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the former FATA. She ran this election campaign in a male-dominated society. Furthermore, Afridi led a historic election rally from Bab e Khyber to Ali Masjid breaking the centuries-old stereotypes attached to women in their society. 

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Increasing Women's Political Participation through Voters' Education

Through this project, Naheed organized three workshops with women leaders and women journalists to increase political participation and voter education for women in the newly merged areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (ex-FATA). The first workshop enhanced the political agency and leadership qualities of 25 women leaders and improved their understanding of overall political and electoral processes, women's social and political rights, and the importance of women's political participation. The second workshop raised the gender awareness of 15 local journalists in the Khyber district and sensitized them on the exclusion of women from the political process and the need to step forward in support of women's political rights. The third activity was a joint interactive workshop aimed at networking between key stakeholders for women's political rights, providing women leaders with several platforms to interact with political party leaders, civil society organizations, and journalists to voice their concerns and demand support for women's political participation. Due to these workshops, local women leaders are now exploring opportunities to join different political parties, several political parties are pledging to engage tribal women and launch female voters' education campaigns, journalists are being sensitized to the issue of exclusion of women, men in the community are engaged and sensitized, and the Aurat Foundation is working on replicating the model in other districts.

"The IVLP was a good experience sharing opportunity. I learned that some of the major challenges faced by women in politics are common in the US and Pakistan, and the progress of women in politics in the US and their role in engendering democracy is inspirational for us." -Naheed

2022 IVLP Impact Award Project: Enhancing Women’s Access to Public Services through Developing Women Leadership

In former FATA, women’s access to public health, education, social and rehabilitation services, utilities such as water and electricity, and socio-economic opportunities remained limited due to several cultural, constitutional and institutional factors. The special constitutional status of ex-FATA restricted socio-economic development, service delivery, and extension of pro-women laws and policies. Resultantly, women were systemically excluded from leadership roles. In 2018, the special constitutional status of FATA was abolished, and the area was merged with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. That paved the way for the expansion of public services and utilities to that area.

Naheed’s project developed women’s leadership in District Khyber to increase their access to services and opportunities after the merger. The project facilitated workshops to 20 female leaders and benefitted 40 students and 200+ families. These leaders identified the most pressing needs of their community in terms of service delivery and met with the relevant government departments/organizations for the redressal of those needs. Women in the community learned about and took advantage of the access to different social welfare funds that they had no prior knowledge of. Additionally, the project exposed the women to the Zakat Fund (a social welfare fund), the Jahez Fund (a dowry fund), and different scholarships.

IVLP Exchange Experience

Naheed was a participant in the IVLP Project Strengthening Local Governance in the Newly Merged Tribal District in 2021, organized by the U.S. Department of State and the American Councils for International Education. She was a participant in the IVLP Project Strengthening Local Governance in the Newly Merged Tribal Districts in 2023, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center.

U.S. Communities Visited in 2023

Washington, DC; Pensacola, FL; St. Louis, MO; Tulsa, OK

U.S. Communities Visited Virtually in 2021

Washington, DC; Boston, MA; Albuquerque, NM

Country: Pakistan

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