Tabassum Adnan is a widely known women’s rights activist from the Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, once a stronghold of both the Taliban and its affiliates, who is fiercely committed to seeking justice for women. She has been instrumental in transforming community mechanisms of conflict mediation to promote justice for women and people of all backgrounds.
In 2013, Tabassum established Khwendo Jirga, the first women’s jirga (council) in Pakistan to provide women with timely justice and the opportunity to contribute to the peace and stability of their communities. Khwendo Jirga has resolved over 2,000 cases of violence and Tabassum’s model as the first woman in Pakistan to serve on a dispute resolution council has encouraged other women to join such councils. The dispute resolution councils create an easily understood and efficient mechanism for resolving conflicts that would otherwise subject women to long waits and a complicated system, a situation which often exposes them to more violence.
She also works on a broad portfolio of issues that impact justice for women, including human trafficking, quality education, gender-based violence, inheritance, sexual violence survivor health, and much more. Her work bridges the gap between traditional and state institutions.
Tabassum has collaborated with local authorities to open a women’s police station in Swat and will chair a separate dispute resolution council there. She has received international recognition for her work, including as a recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s International Women of Courage Award in 2015.