(Mr. Wasim Hussain, 29, was born in Srinagar. He attended Government High School and the Gandhi Memorial College, both in Srinagar. He has completed graduation and is pursuing his Master's degree in political science through Distance Mode of Learning. He took an English speaking course through the Islamia College of Science and Commerce and an advanced diploma in Information Technology. He has completed diplomas in web design and software design. Wasim has worked at the University of Kashmir since 2000, and is presently in the Directorate of Internal Quality Assurance (DIQA) as a senior computer assistant. He has received awards both as a student and as an employee for his performance. He enjoys writing and reading books. Wasim writes under the pen name of Wasim Ali.)
EXISTENCE OF WOMEN DURING TURMOIL IN VALLEY
Women have always been played a vital role in shaping future of any nation. Of course why not? It is the mother, sister a wife and indeed a leader of a family, the material of leadership has been found in her gene and if women will be given an opportunity it will lead a society and a country in a proper and prosperous way.
Women constitute almost half of the population in the world. But the hegemonic masculine ideology made them suffer a lot as they were denied equal opportunities in different parts of the world. Women in Kashmir have also been continuously the victims of physical/psychological, cultural as well as economic violence. Yet, they have resisted, they proved the best in every field of society. The role of women in Kashmir is unforgettable especially the role they played during the turmoil speaks volumes for their credit.
Kashmir has been central to political discussions in India, the impact on women due to the ongoing conflict in the State has received little or no attention. There are no precise estimates, official or non-official, of the number of women widowed during turmoil. The two decades of conflict has deeply affected the living standard of women, their breathing surroundings, strength, eating habits, their work, workplaces, income resources, their access to education and so on. It is the women of Kashmir who have felt the impact most severely. Yet there is very little which has been done so far for the betterment and upliftmet of women in the State. The changing global shape introduced so many opportunities for the women which unfortunately cannot be availed by the women of Kashmir due to the continuous conflict and bloodshed.
Upto to the year 1990, women in Kashmir chose to stay inside their homes, and remain confined to their traditions, culture and heritage. It was only in the early 1990s the bitterness and the anger which caused due to the atrocities faced by the people of Kashmir due to the bloody conflict between India and Pakistan and brought the women out into the streets. The Darpora village of Kupwara district is commonly known as the village of half-widows, due to the ongoing turmoil the village faced the worst suffer as there are so many men still disappeared and some were killed during the militancy period. Widowhood had become the dominant marker of women in Dardpora.Women are considered to be more sensitive and expressively stronger than men. Women are also sympathetically impulsive towards the male gender. If a girl child sees the male members of her family being victimized, she feels more sturdily about it than her male counterpart. Similarly, a woman feels strongly about any perceived atrocities committed against her community.
For Kashmiri women – mothers, wives, sisters and daughters – negotiating space for their men folk has become a way of life, whether it is taking up the issue of missing sons and husbands or it is the procession taken against any type of atrocities occurred due to the militants or armed forces a story every single house in Kashmir must be familiar with. During the early years of the militancy when it was more of a popular uprising, women were often seen at the forefront of the mass protests and agitations, challenging the Indian forces on the streets of Srinagar and established several important organizations. The setting up of the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) is an important initiative on the part of women towards bringing peace in Kashmir.
The role of women is not confined only during the turmoil but the history itself speaks a lot for the role played by them in J&K, if Kashmir is the soil of saints like Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani it is the same place where, Lala Ded and Habba Khatoon proved their credibility, their poetry and sayings give enthusiasm of living to every generation and also became role model for every women in the State.
During past twenty years the women in Kashmir has faced a difficult time but they never compromised and successfully proved their potential on achieving any goal. The status of women in Kashmir was not different from that of other parts of India and the adjoining countries. Women in Kashmir used to work right from ploughing fields to harvesting the crops in the agricultural fields, weaving and making handicrafts while working in household industries, and women also gather wood in the informal sector. Although most of the women work and contribute to the economy of the state in one or the other form, however much of their work is not accounted for in official statistics. In addition to this women are also engaged in their daily household chores e.g. cooking, fetching water, rearing and caring of children and attend other domestic works. The ratio of women education inclines and they successfully come out by facing every challenge. They work shoulder to shoulder to men and occupied so many important places in the administration and other allied sectors. In alone University of Kashmir there are 10 important Departments / Centre which are headed by women. She is also in a reasonable quantity in the J&K assembly and also holds the position like Leader of Opposition.
Looking the status, contribution and the challenges faced by the women in Kashmir one cannot rule out their role in peace process in the State. Women perceive peace as a condition free of any kind of violence in society. This concept of peace begins with one's immediate family and goes on to cover the whole region, country and the world. When there is violence in society, women feel its impact first. Therefore, women must play a decisive role in negotiating the peace process. In order to make this possible, they must be empowered politically, economically and represented adequately at all levels of decision-making. However, state and non-state agencies make no effort to involve women in ongoing peace processes. They ignore the impact of conflict on women and marginalize their needs and aspirations. If Kashmiri man were killed, it belongs to the women who become his widow, a mother lost his son and a sister lost his brother. In short a woman is the centre of this pain in every corner, then why she is overlooked when politicians speak about peace . It is not out of place to mention that women can play an important role in the ongoing peace process in the State. Government should not ignore the role of woman and must accommodate her in the ongoing peace struggle in Kashmir as it has been affected most during the twenty year deadly turmoil in the valley.