Our Pakistan peacebuilder Gulalai Ismail has been invited to attend a Washington conference hosted by President Obama. The Obama Civil Society Summit is organised by the US State Department and will look at how to support and enhance the status of community organisations in the countries where they work.
The event will be formally hosted by President Obama. Heads of state, civil society, multilateral organizations, and private foundations to discuss growing restrictions that are being placed on civil society organizations (CSOs) worldwide and spur an intensive effort over the next year to develop coordinated strategies to push back against the proliferation of restrictive practices.
Organisers explain: “Around the globe, an increasing number of governments are restricting the space for civil society and limiting the ability of CSOs to operate through laws or regulations that curtail CSO activities, make it more difficult for CSOs to register, and curb external funding. In many countries, CSOs have come under increased harassment or threat for accepting international support or assistance. This phenomenon affects civil society working in all sectors – not just democracy and human rights but also in humanitarian assistance, social service delivery, peace-building and conflict resolution, health, and economic growth and development. This event will provide an opportunity for high-level exchange on the threats facing civil society.”
Gulalai has also been invited in October to address a conference on capitol Hill by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a prominent activist for peace and women’s rights. She is particularly noted for an initiative called “A World of Women for World Peace”.
As Johnson explains: “Through “A World of Women for World Peace”, I have worked tirelessly to bring attention to those on the forefront of the peace movement. Whether meeting with international delegations or hosting events on Capitol Hill and in my district, I hope to bring peaceful conflict resolution to the center of our dialogue on foreign policy. I began this program in 2001 to bring greater visibility to the women who are victims of war and aggression, and the women who facilitate peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building activities in their communities.”
Gulalai co-founded the Aware Girls in Pakistan when she was just 16. The group promotes women’s leadership for peace, democracy and empowerment. It is active in countering radicalisation of young people by extremist groups. Her work was recognised this year with a Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy in the US Congress.