Tabassum Adnan

Pakistani activist

Tabassum Adnan (Urdu: تبسم عدنان) (born 1977) is a women's rights activist from Pakistan.[1] In 2015, she won the U.S. State Department's International Women of Courage Award because of her work for justice for Pakistani women.[2][3]

Tabassum Adnan received the International Women of Courage Award in 2015.


Tabassum Adnan was born in 1977. She grew up in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.[4]

Tabassum was married when she was 13 years old. She had four children. She was a victim of domestic violence. After she was married for 20 years, she divorced her husband. [2][5]

The jirga for womenEdit

Tabassum did not have a home or money, so she went to a local group for women. The group gave her the idea to work for more participation for women. First, she went to the Swat Qaumi Aman Jirga, a group with only men, but they refused her. [4] A jirga is an informal court that enforces qisas (retribution laws).[6] It is not a formal court, but many times the formal courts will listen to their decisions. [7]

In May 2013, Adnan started her own jirga. It was the first women's jirga in Pakistan. [7]

In Pakistan, women are used as chattel, or property, to settle disagreements between men. They are traded in marriage to pay debts and claims of honor, and to pay for crimes. Because women have little power, Adnan knew that her group needed to get the police and the courts to act. Her jirga has 25 women. It works to pressure the police and the traditional court system, and it gives legal help to the victims.[8] The Khwendo Jirga, or Sister’s Council also works for free education for girls, good health for women and girls, training in both home skills and work skills, loans for small business, and voting. [9] The jirga also works for laws to stop violence against women, especially honor killings, dowry harassments, acid attacks, and torture. [10]

At first, the men's jirgas did not like the Khwendo Jirga. Women's rights activists did not like it either.[11] Then, in 2014, that changed. A child was raped, and the authorities did nothing. Khwendo Jirga had a protest walk, to attract the attention of the public. The police made arrests. Then, for the first time in Pashtun history, a woman, Adnan, was asked to sit on the men's jirga and help decide the case. [12] After the first protest, the women had more success. [13] In July, 2014, Adnan and Khwendo Jirga worked to pass a law against child marriage.[14] Although some religious groups were not happy, [15] the Sindh Assembly passed a law against marriages for anyone under the age of eighteen. [16] In December, 2014 the Punjab Assembly voted to change the present law.[17]


  1. "AWIU » 2015 IWOC Awardees". Archived from the original on 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Biographies of 2015 Award Winners".
  4. 4.0 4.1 Majeed, A (11 July 2013). "Pakistan's Women-Only Jirga Fights for Equal Rights". Newsweek Pakistan. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  5. "2015 International Women of Courage Award Winners - International Women of Courage Celebration".
  6. "Girl wants husband punished for chopping off her nose". Saach TV. July 3, 2014. Archived from the original on 8 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Siddiqui, Taha (March 4, 2014). "World Asia: South & Central In former Taliban fiefdom, Pakistan's first female council tackles abuses". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  8. Ali, Syed Mohammad (August 8, 2013). "Significance of the female jirga". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  9. Siraj, Haroon (July 24, 2013). "Female jirga head flays 'flawed' legal system". Pakistan Gender News. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  10. "పాక్ మహిళకు అమెరికా అవార్డు.. సాహస స్త్రీగా ఎంపిక..!". తెలుగు వార్తలు. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  11. Guerin, Orla (25 July 2013). "Pakistani women use jirga to fight for rights". BBC News. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  12. "Tabassum Adnan A monumental moment for Pashtun women". N-Peace Network. Retrieved 15 March 2015.[permanent dead link]
  13. Ul Islam, Nazar (24 October 2014). "Nobody Cares". Newsweek Pakistan. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  14. Inayat, Naila (June 7, 2014). "Cultures clash over forced child marriages in Pakistan". USA Today. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  15. Inayat, Naila (May 16, 2014). "Muslim clerics resist Pakistan's efforts to end child marriage". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  16. Asif, Sundas (June 5, 2014). "Child Marriages Restraint Bill passed unanimously". Taste Pakistan. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  17. Shaukat, Aroosa (December 24, 2014). "PA session: Lawmakers pass resolution against child marriages". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 15 March 2015.

Other websitesEdit