Fata woman receives courage award

March 11, 2008


WASHINGTON, March 10: Dr Begum Jan, who received the international women of courage award from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday, believes that the military might alone cannot subdue the tribes of Waziristan.

Seven women — from Pakistan, Fiji, Iraq, Kosovo, Palestinian Authority, Paraguay, and Somalia — received the award.

“These honorees have transformed their societies and served as an inspiration to the international community,” said Ms Rice while conferring the awards.

Dr Jan heads the Tribal Women Welfare Association, which works to empower the voice and role of women in traditional communities of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Dr Jan is the first Pakistani to receive this coveted award.

She has established 11 centres across the tribal region for providing medical training to tribal women.

“In a traditional society like Fata’s, you cannot insist that you will bring male doctors from outside to treat women. The tribes will not allow it to happen,” said Dr Jan while explaining why she is providing medical training to tribal women.

Women trained at her centres can perform multiple tasks, from that of a midwife to a village doctor’s; catering to the needs of tribal women across the region. A physician from South Waziristan, Dr Jan knows the tribal belt well and advises both US and Pakistani officials to “look for a negotiated settlement” to their dispute with the militants.

Dr Jan, who also has won a pride of performance award from the government of Pakistan, believes that private developmental agencies can play a positive role in the tribal belt if they work within a particular framework.

Although Dr Jan proudly emphasized her “Pakistaniyet” at the award giving ceremony and the functions the State Department arranged to introduce her to the US media and NGOs, nobody from the Pakistan Embassy attended the functions.

At the reception for the media, the State Department asked an Afghan to translate some of the remarks she made in Pashto. The interpreter also accompanied her to other events and when the Iraqi ambassador asked Dr Jan why nobody from the Pakistan Embassy was there, she was heard saying: “They will come. Perhaps they do not know about this function.”