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Pakistani woman activist awarded Humanitarian award

By Ibrahim Sajid Malick
WASHINGTON: Women’s rights advocate Sameena Nazir was recognized Friday at InterAction’s annual forum, the largest forum for the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors in Washington DC.

Nazir is the first Pakistani to ever receive the Humanitarian Award which is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions in the developing world and whose work reflects such qualities as courage, initiative, and grace under pressure, integrity and personal sacrifice.

Nazir is the founder and director of the Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), an NGO that works for the promotion and protection of human rights in rural Pakistan.

Nazir told SAMAA she has accepted the award for all Pakistani women, “especially rural women who have it worst”. Rural women need to be encouraged and empowered for sustainable development of Pakistan. “As the world faces the realities of the global recession, we must look beyond finances and focus on long-term efforts to provide lasting solutions for economic growth,” she said.

Nasir emphasized that global donor institutions need a comprehensive and systematic exploration of the ideas and insights of people who live in societies that have been on the receiving side of international assistance.

Samuel Worthington, the CEO of InterAction, said, “InterAction acknowledges the extraordinary efforts of individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the humanitarian and development community.”

This award is “recognition of the US NGO community that without partnership with local actors, the type of change we would like to see in the world is not possible.” He also said, “Sameena Nazir’s selection was almost unanimous.”

Before returning to Pakistan to establish PODA in her native village, Nazir worked in Washington, D.C., as a Women’s Rights Coordinator at Global Rights: Partners for Justice (formerly International Human Rights Law Group), where she designed and implemented women’s rights programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Yemen. Later Nazir worked at Freedom House in New York, where she directed a survey on women’s rights in 18 Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa. She is currently organizing rural communities in Pakistan and advocating the use of a human rights framework in the development and relief programs for internally displaced persons in Pakistan.(Courtesy: SAMAA)

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