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NA Speaker Fehmida Mirza honoured

September 29, 2012

National Assembly Speaker, Dr Fehmida Mirza. — File Photo

NEW YORK: A prominent American think-tank on Thursday night presented the 2012 Leadership Award to leading Pakistani and Afghan women parliamentarians.

Fehmida Mirza, first woman speaker of Pakistan's National Assembly, and Ms. Shinkai Karokhail, a women's rights activist and member of the Afghan Parliament, received the leadership award for their inspiring records, according to a press release issued on Friday by the EastWest Institute (EWI).

Japan's Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba accepted the Institute's International Peace Building Award on behalf of the Japanese people, who have provided critical economic and development assistance to Afghanistan.

The EasWest Institute's Board Chairman Ross Perot, presented the awards to the parliamentarians, the first to Fehmida Mirza.

“We are proud that she has been personally instrumental to the success of our Parliamentarians Network and its Women, Peace and Security initiative. She is an inspiration to us all,” Perot said.

Shezreh Mirza, the award winner's daughter, and Dr. Donya Aziz, a prominent member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, accepted the award on behalf of Fehmida Mirza.

Speaking of her mother's firm belief in women's empowerment, Shezreh Mirza quoted her as saying: “Women don't make war. They make peace. Women don't take life. They give life.”

Mirza and Ms. Karokhail are the first recipients of the leadership award named for Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.

The wife of the late Sheikh Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, founded the first UAE women's organisation in 1973: the Abu Dhabi Society for the Awakening of Women, the press release said.

These honorees are deeply involved in EWI's Women, Peace and Security trust-building work in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it said.

EWI President John Mroz noted that the institute recognises the role that women play on a global scale, not succumbing to a “policy community that is comfortable in its old ways.”

“There are few more important ways of instigating positive change in the world than the empowerment of women for heightened participation in political decision making including foreign and defense matters,” said Mroz. “Fehmida Mirza and Ms. Karokhail are groundbreaking, visionary leaders. Their leadership deserves to be recognized beyond their borders as a beacon of inspiration to others.”

He added: “It is also a great honor to present the prestigious International Peace Building Award to the people of Japan.” EWI is non-partisan “think and do” tank focusing on international conflict resolution through a variety of means, including track 2 diplomacy and track 1.5 diplomacy (conducted with the direct involvement of official actors), hosting international conferences, and authoring publications on international security issues.