Swat activist Tabassum Adnan wins 2016 Nelson Mandela Award

Published April 29, 2016
Tabassum Adnan winner of the Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award for the year 2016 in Individual Activist category. —Photo: CIVICUS Alliance
Tabassum Adnan winner of the Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award for the year 2016 in Individual Activist category. —Photo: CIVICUS Alliance

SWAT: Tabassum Adnan, a women's rights activist from Swat valley became the recipient of yet another prestigious award on Thursday when she was bestowed with the Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award 2016 in Bogota, Colombia.

Talking to Dawn from Colombia soon after receiving her award, Adnan said she dedicates her award to her country, Pakistan.

“I am grateful to everyone in my country who supported me in my cause to fight for the rights of women. Today, being a Pakistani woman here I feel proud to have earned a good name for my country,” she said.

Tabassum Adnan speaks at the International Civil Society Week. —Photo: CIVICUS Alliance
Tabassum Adnan speaks at the International Civil Society Week. —Photo: CIVICUS Alliance

She won the award for the individual activist category on the concluding day of the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) held from April 25-28.

A victim of child marriage, Tabassum Adnan was married at the age of 13. The marriage which was marked by frequent domestic abuse, ended after 20 years when she gathered the courage to divorce her abusive husband.

Read: Meet the daredevil activists changing the game for women in Swat

From then on, she launched her NGO, Khwendo Jirga, or Sister’s Council, a women-only Jirga where women meet weekly to discuss issues such as honour killings, acid attacks and swara — the practice of giving women as compensation for crimes.

Winners of the 2016 Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Awards. —Photo: CIVICUS Alliance
Winners of the 2016 Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Awards. —Photo: CIVICUS Alliance

The Jirga has launched awareness campaigns related to women's security, their right to vote and also offer free legal help to victims of violence. It has successfully defended and stopped several cases of swara and violence against women.

This year, the awards were given in the categories of Youth Activists, Individual Activists, Civil Society Organisations, and Brave Philanthropy.

She has also received the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in recognition of her untiring efforts and services for women’s rights.

Winners of the 2016 Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award in all categories:

  • Youth Category: Smriti Nagpal (India)
  • Brave Philanthropy: Divest-Invest (represented by Ellen Dorsey)
  • Organisation: Sierra Leone Medical Students Association (represented by Dr. Asad Naveed)
  • Individual Activist: Tabassum Adnan (Pakistan)

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