PAIMAN Alumni Trust addresses issues of violent extremism by engaging women, youth, local religious leaders, teachers and other stakeholders in Pakistan to become effective leaders. Through economic and social means PAIMAN empower women to build social cohesion, prevent violent extremism (PVE), engage local influential leaders and advocate for more inclusive security policies at the local level. PAIMAN can proudly claim that they have youth and women from becoming involved in extremism by creating awareness among community members, mothers and other women. Through research, capacity building support services and advocacy, they aim to provide the relevant link between problems of community development and substantive solutions.
Developing a Peace Network of Women Leaders to Combat Violent Extremism
With the support of the IPF, PAIMAN has been working with their community in Charsadda, a district in Pakistan, to strengthen PAIMAN’s Women TOLANA, a peace network of over 150 women and mothers. PAIMAN created and engaged this network to capacitate its members with the tools for improving their livelihoods and recognizing and combatting violent extremism. For example, while teaching women to sew or make samosas as method of income generation, they would also teach them how to identify the early warning signs of violent extremism in an individual and in their community. They rely on utilizing Islamic texts and indigenous practices to build community and prevent violence. Many women in their community had been supporting the Taliban, as they believed it was a moral and pious act, by serving tea, raising funds, and performing other services. However, PAIMAN has successfully intervened to help them shift their paths towards peace instead. In one instance, where PAIMAN’s TOLANA members learned of ten women sewing suicide vests for extremist groups, they were able to convince six of them to end their support and instead participate in sewing and other projects that would uplift themselves, their families, and community. Additionally, the TOLANA network has prevented 13 bombing attempts and suicide attacks, unearthed three storages of weapons, prevented hundreds of youth and women from joining extremist groups, and has had its model replicated in Bangladesh, Somalia and Afghanistan.
More recently, in an effort to spread awareness of the double pandemic of COVID-19 and increased gender-based violence, the TOLANA members created a rooftop network, an innovative way of using their respective rooftops to create awareness, share messages and socialize. This proved to be an effective and culturally- rooted method of sharing vital information protect themselves and their community, while also maintaining social distance.
Charsadda is a conservative community, in which women’s leadership in PVE initiatives or building social cohesion has been rare. However, as result of PAIMAN’s interventions, more young girls and women from various sectors are mobilizing men to support them their endeavors and participation in building resilient communities, leading peacebuilding initiatives, and advocating with local administration on issues affecting women and children.
Reformed 6 women who were engaged in sewing suicide vests for the Taliban
Prevented 13 potential bombing attempts and suicide attacks
Discovered three storages of weapons
Prevented hundreds of youth and women from joining extremist groups
Spearheaded a TOLANA Network model that has been replicated in Bangladesh, Somalia and Afghanistan.
“PAIMAN can be considered a torch bearer for PVE/CVE in Charsadda because their community empowerment program has developed vigilant communities discouraging extremist groups to exploit the vulnerable and have helped communities understand importance of pluralism, tolerance and social cohesion.”
– TOLANA Member