- Former Co-chair, Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (2013-18)
- Former Professor of Political Science, and Founder Director, School of Women’s Studies, Utkal University, India
My major work on women, peace, and security is related to South Asia and much of it on Kashmir and North East India. It begins with the tragedy of the partition of India which has continued to haunt us because among other issues the violence against women and the arms race which has made India today a nuclear power and the largest importer of weapons globally. Both the issues seemed intertwined and I turned to peace studies to find the answers. Peace for me has also centered around both ending conflict and gender equality. The other major issue lately has been UNSCR 1325 and the formation of a people’s action plan (see Openings for Peace). This work focuses on UN discussions in the Security Council and in relation to India. My belief has been when States don’t work we as civil society must, it's not easy but there is no way out. The other issue has been in regard to Human Security which is related to my research for instance The Gender Imperative edited with Betty A. Reardon. A follow-up of the issue was in The Letters: An Exchange on Patriarchy, Militarization, and Feminist Peace Activism an article in a book dedicated to the writings of Betty Reardon. These materials, I am glad, have become resources in peace studies. My recent work has been related to Climate Change and migration. Though this work was not directly linked with peace and demilitarization I saw the connections specifically via Gender, Climate Change, and Securitisation. These interlinkages helped reframe peace studies from a perspective of countries of the South. Challenges have been many as right-wing extremism, authoritarianism, and patriarchy increased across the globe. In the countries I work in peace has become a dangerous word with little space to discuss it.
- Peace work related to Nepal worked with the Asia Forum on a Peace Mission to Nepal in 2004 in an attempt to end the Maoist Conflict and the formation of a democratic government. Met all political and major leaders of Nepal. It provided strength to the peace movement in South Asia and contributed to peace studies in South Asia.
- Co-Chairperson of Pakistan Indian People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy 2013-2018. The work of the organization involved issues of women across borders, visas, fishermen, and prisoner exchange issues. It has worked incessantly on ending the conflict in Kashmir and people’s choices, the use of nuclear weapons, and trade. The large network of peace believers across the two countries has survived the ravages of multiple wars and continues working in an authoritarian space.
As a person born during the violent partition of India and Pakistan, my family’s involvement in conflict provided me the reason why peace and peace studies became an important part of my life (Orphans Of The Partition: The Perilous Journey Of Women). With peace education my involvement in teaching M.Phil courses at Utkal University in India where I taught peace and gender from 1999 and involvement in course development and gendered research (Women Across Borders in Kashmir: The Continuum of Violence. This was also the time that I came to know Elise Boulding and a direct contact with teaching peace. In 1994 she suggested that I meet Betty Reardon at Columbia as Betty was going to China for the 1995 Beijing Conference. Though the connection with Betty Reardon did not start till a few years later, peace started to become part of my research and teaching.
In 1996 during a fellowship on Afghan Women at York University Canada I joined a Women in Conflict Zone Network (WICZNET) started by Wenona Giles at York University. It brought me in touch with the broader women’s community working on conflict and peace including Cynthia Enloe, Cynthia Cockburn, Malathi de Alwes, Kumari Jayawardena, Nira Yuval Davis, and many more. Later with Betty Reardon, my participation in FeDEM, a network of women around the world working on peace and peace studies brought in new friends, Eva Nagy, Olena Suslova, Sakena Yacoobi, Kozue Akabayashi, Tara Hopkins, and Ayse Gul Alinay and so many more. This network helped me to realize the amount of work being done by women of the South under very difficult situations.
The other reason for keeping involved with peace studies was my involvement with cross-border peace in South Asia and especially Pakistan, where borders had become entrenched as symbols of conflict. As the conflict continues so does my work with peace in cross-border politics.
2000 was the year of UNSCR Resolution 1325 and the next few years were spent on developing a People’s Plan of Action for countries where the National Action Plans were not possible. In the same year, the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) meeting in India brought me to work on peace studies not only with many different actors but more importantly a new pedagogy. This was followed by participation in many IIPE meetings and interaction with peace studies in various parts of the world especially Turkey, S. Korea, and Costa Rica. The connection with Betty Reardon, Tony Jenkins, and Janet Gerson helped me learn peace through various other means besides teaching and research. Working with Betty Reardon changed my ways of thinking and research, it gave a new meaning to my life. The motivation was provided by the people who promoted peace and changed my life are so many. In the last few years besides Betty and her team, peace believers such as Swarna Rajagopalan and the course I run with her on Gender and Peace have added to our learnings and spread it to the young in India.