“Assembly elections have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir and for the last four months we have been organising women’s groups across the region who’ve been fighting to be heard on a number of issues, including domestic violence. The elections were a long extended process, stretching over seven phases! It has taken three months to collect all the results and form the new government.
The entire period of the last four months running up to the polling and results was extremely challenging with curfews, shutdowns and protests. But in spite of the boycott call given by the separatists with their intimidating methods of coercing people to boycott, almost 64 per cent (on average) came out to vote. This gives hope, encouragement and inspiration to people like us who are working at the grassroots level for building spaces for dialogue, democracy, pluralism and reconciliation. The chaos, violence and insecurity during elections have completely shrunk spaces for people to express and articulate themselves, especially women. In fact normal routine, with offices, educational institutions and markets frequently closed, made it extremely difficult for people to carry on any kind of work. Now with the democratic government in place, hopefully voices of the voiceless will be heard and people will get an opportunity to engage with issues of governance, development and security. As such our Samanbals have a crucial role to play. I am looking forward to energising the given spaces so as to continue in building a secure and stable region.”
“Our work now is to concentrate on using the network we have built through the Samanbals to fight for political change, to become a unified, powerful voice for peace and to spread that voice across all regions of Kashmir, on both sides of the line of divide.
Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who supports our work, it means so much to us. To have people the other side of the world support our initiative is incredible, reassuring and a lifeline of hope. Thank you so very much.”