Women PeaceMaker Profile

Khurshid Bano


Daughters Wear Their Father's Struggles by Peace Writer Alicia Wright

Pakistan, Asia

Khurshid Bano of Pakistan is the founder and CEO of Da Hawwa Lur (Daughter of Eve), a women-­led NGO that campaigns against gender­based violence and discrimination of women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, a deeply conservative and conflict ­affected region of Pakistan. The organization provides free legal, psychological and capacity-building support to women facing any kind of violence, and to those who have been displaced by violence or natural disasters in the province.

An activist and leader since 1986, Bano became the first woman union leader elected in KP and helped implement laws to end discrimination and violence against marginalized groups, particularly women, in the workplace. Recently, she launched the first all­women’s union in KP, which creates awareness of the challenges faced by women working in all fields, from doctors and engineers to domestic and factory workers.

Its agenda includes equal pay, prevention of harassment in the workplace, safety and security, and the health of women workers. During the height of extremist activity in KP, in 2008, Bano initiated the Peace by Peace Campaign to get women and youth involved in maintaining peace within their own communities. Approximately 500 boys and girls were educated on conflict transformation and religious tolerance; dialogues were held with scholars from different religions and sects; and rural women were trained on their role in transforming the mindsets of their children away from radicalization.

The campaign also featured, on the initiative of Bano, an inter­religious celebration of the Hindu festival Diwali — which her colleague called “a very daring decision” given the intolerant and extremist hold that the Taliban and other militants had in KP. Hindus from Sind Province joined with Muslims in Peshawar, the provincial capital, to go to the temple to pray and celebrate the ancient festival together in peace.

In addition to her work with Da Hawwa Lur, Bano is an active member of the Pakistan Alliance against Sexual Harassment, which has been working for the implementation, drafting, and lobbying of laws on the topic. She has helped implement laws in 32 departments of KP. Bano is also a member of the Gender Working Group of the international CIVICUS alliance.