We support partners to work with a large number of diverse groups in the different regions across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir – in particular women and youth, who are regularly excluded from processes of political change.
Opportunities for Kashmiris to engage with official dialogue processes and actors in the national capitals of New Delhi and Islamabad are few and far between.
Our engagement aims to increase support of peacebuilding and to promote the contribution of Kashmiris in the broader India-Pakistan peace process.
Conciliation Resources has supported youth leaders to work in different regions across the LoC in Kashmir to ascertain what the priorities and identities of young people are.
A group of young leaders are spearheading a unique effort to get young people to explore and articulate non-violent means of expression and political engagement for affecting change.
Working throughout Kashmir, since 2012 the project ‘Youth Vision 2020’ has been enabling youth to articulate their views on the challenges and opportunities they face, including on education, the economy and governance.
The ultimate aim of the work is to empower youth to articulate a vision for the future with practical youth-led initiatives for change, and to strengthen connections between youth voices and policy-level dialogue.
The Youth Vision 2020 initiative has enabled a process of engagement and understanding to be developed about the perspectives and needs of youth in Kashmir. Some of the findings are documented in a series of research papers exploring these issues:
- A needs assessment of youth in India-Administered Kashmir
- The impact of conflict on young people in Azad Jammu and Kashmir
- A needs assessment of youth in India Administered Jammu and Ladakh
- Unheard Voices: Engaging Youth of Gilgit-Baltistan
I can clearly see in these people great change in their confidence and understanding and level of commitment… They own this process and want to continue.
Fayaz, a youth leader from Srinagar
Half widows' ruling
Conciliation Resources works with women’s groups looking to address key conflict related issues affecting their lives. One such example is the difficult situation of ‘half-widows’ - women whose husbands have disappeared but are not yet declared deceased - from the Kashmir Valley in India-administered Kashmir. Decades of conflict have produced an estimated 1500 ‘half-widows’.
Religious leaders in Kashmir from the various schools and sects of Islam previously had different and contradictory interpretations of the laws, which govern the lives of ‘half-widows’.
Some Islamic scholars forbade remarriage; others dictated that the waiting period before being able to remarry was 90 years, others that it was 9, or 7 years.
While there are many women who do not want to remarry, others would want the opportunity to build another life for themselves. They would appreciate clarity on what is permissible and acceptable in accordance with religious doctrine.
In 2013, a series of consultations between Islamic scholars (Ulema) and Conciliation Resources’ civil society partners led to a breakthrough ruling on Kashmir’s ‘half-widows’.
The religious leaders reached a consensus on a four-year waiting period. This is an important step towards restoring the marriage and property rights of these forgotten survivors.
The ruling has since received wide publicity and positive feedback from many sectors of society. It has also increased the credibility of the group campaigning.
No one else has been able to achieve this so far… Within the available structures of patriarchy and religion, we were able to redress and mitigate the suffering of these directly affected women whose everyday life continues to be a story of struggle and survival.
Ezabir Ali, activist from India-administered Kashmir