Words and images by khalida Niaz & Translated by Asia Jamil
Since the inception of Pakistan, women from the Tribal Districts of Pakistan are deprived from the basic right of education. Women have faced hardships for decades in Tribal Districts, yet the 21st century has brought changes in the lives of women from those districts. Women from the Newly Merged Districts of Pakistan (NMDs) in the present are not just getting recognition in the field of education, but in diverse fields of life.
Razia Mehsood with the honor to be the first female Journalist from South Waziristan (a conflict-affected Tribal region in Pakistan) is also among the trailblazers who have joined politics to represent women from Tribal areas. Waziristan comprises the area West and Southwest of Peshawar city of Pakistan, between the Tochi river to the north and the river of Gomal to the south. The region had been an independent tribal territory from 1893, remaining outside of British-ruled empire and Afghanistan. Miss Mehsood has intention to contest in Local Election from Tehsil Ludha to sub-division Ludha for Chairperson position.
Talking to DIFFDAFF Miss Mehsood shared that a few years ago when she started working as a Journalist, her intentions were to serve her community and now she has joined politics with the same fervor to support her people in the best viable way. She says ‘’I am more focused on working towards women empowerment and the identification of the issues faced by women with possible solution.’’
She also shared that due to lack of women representations in the politics, the issues of women are facing negligence. Mehsood believes if there is equal representation of women in politics, the challenges faced by women could not just be identified but sorted in the better ways with a marked decline in their issues.
Mehsood finds people with either intention to join politics for personal benefits completely ignoring to uplift societies or those with preference to work for people. The latter category of people is limited in number and need women representation. She advocates if any woman finds leadership skills in herself, she must lead.
Mehsood added, ‘’There is not a lack of talent in the Tribal women, but the fear to speak for their rights is holding them back. I believe by joining politics, I might help many women to get courage and raise their voice for themselves, the coming generations and the young girls who deserve better lives.’’
She shared that she has visited the far-flung areas in District Waziristan, and she therefore is well-aware of the core issues women are facing there.
‘’For awareness raising on women rights, I have been to the areas in Waziristan where one can hardly imagine going. I highlighted the issues of women from those areas on different platforms of media, but I also tried to resolve certain issues on my own without the risk of exposing the identities of women for their safety.’’ she said.
Mehsood says that through Journalism she was playing a role to spotlight the issues of her people, but as a journalist she felt much restricted in supporting others as maximum she could do was to highlight issues through her work. Yet, she always had passion to be in leading decision-making role and thus she decided to join politics. She has discovered that Politics is the right place for her with the authority to resolve the challenges faced by her community, particularly women and the opportunity to voice in parliament the unspoken issues of women.
Mehsood said, ‘’unlike other politicians who make vows to people, but never keep them-I will practically show my work as a strong woman to the world.’’ She added that she has received an overwhelming response from her people and many people from her area personally approached to encourage and support her. Such responses have already boosted her confidence and she considers that her win over anything.
Social Activist Miss Nosheen from the Tribal area appreciated the decision of Miss Mehsood to join politics and considers this a ‘’right step for women empowerment’’.
Nosheen said,’’ Women stepping in the politics from the tribal areas is certainly a positive step to be the source of inspiration for the women across the world. The participation of Miss Naheed Afridi in politics in the recent past has been an encouraging step. Winning and losing is part of the game, yet I must say that women joining politics is strengthening the voices of other women.’’
Miss Nosheen also expressed that woman like Miss Mehsood are inspiring many women and her efforts are commendable to help other women to get the courage and standout.
khalida Niaz belongs to Nowshera district of khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Pakistan. She has Masters Degree in journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan. She is engaged in practical journalism for 9 years. Currently, she is working with Tribal News Network (TNN) a news agency that provides news to local people of KPK-Pakistan. She has won third prize in a National level competition in story writing on ‘Reporting on Forced Labor and Fair Recruitment in Pakistan.’ She also writes blogs on social and women issues.