Co-founder of women’s rights foundation in Pakistan shot dead
Fareeda Afridi, an activist for women’s rights in Peshawar, Pakistan, founded the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowement in Rural Areas (Sawera) in 2004 with her sister Noorzia.
Sawera focuses on women’s and children’s rights and education. Safeworld partnered with Sawera because of the sisters’ “sense of hope, energy and optimism, their sensitivity to local cultural issues, and the obvious respect and admiration shown to them by many in the local community,” according to their website.
This sense of hope was dashed last week when Afridi was brutally murdered. She received three gun shots on her way to work.
According to the local political administration, she was shot by militants who followed her on her way to the office and opened fire from a motorbike.
Even though her death has devastated her local community, friends and colleagues, they were aware that Afridi had received death threats a month before her death which had forced her to change her mobile number.
She even believed she could be killed in Peshawar, the online edition of Pakistan’s Daily Times reported. Her friends and colleagues believe the local Taliban militants were behind this intimidation.
Unfortunately, news of her death was barely covered by international mainstream media, even though they covered news of an unknown man being beaten to death by a mob in a different region of Pakistan.
What makes his death more important than Afridi’s? That is the question Myra McDonald, a Pakistan blogger on Reuters.com, is asking.
Afridi, along with other women who work in women’s rights, was determined to remain defiant and continued to criticise the government, the Taliban and the patriarchal nature of Pakistani society, which she saw as one of the main obstacles to women’s empowerment.
News of her murder has saddened the women’s rights community as it demonstrates the risk that many women put themselves through in order to empower their gender in their own community.
Why does the work they do and the values they are trying to promote have to end in bloodshed? Let us hope that Afridi did not die in vain and that the incredible work Sawera does continues and spreads throughout the region.