Olasi Khor

KHOR’s Azra Nafees Yousafzai  introduced “Olasi Khor”, an initiative by Pashtun women activists to come together to help our fellow Pashtun women to realize their dreams of becoming voices for change in the society through promotion of culture. The time and space for the Pashtun women in the society has shrunk enormously for a variety of reasons. Long ago women were vibrant and active members of the socio-political life in the Pashtun society. They had their distinctive role not only in the family and community as far as the decision making was concerned but also had a unique sphere and space in the social life. They had the medium of folklore like Tappa, Saandey and landai to express themselves, Goodar, Tanara, local fests ( Melley), Nouroz,and marriages celebrations for collective entertainment and bonding together. They would have their own niche skills like ‘Gulkari, Dastakari, doll making, embroidery and making pottery for their creative expression as well as participation in the economic life. These and several other such activities provided the womenfolk to remain an essential part of the community life but would also add value to their own lives. While years of violence and conflict , cultural degradation, religious extremism, radicalization, and shrinking social space has negatively impacted the broader society. It is the women in the Pashtun society that have been hit hard by the continuing milieu of socio-cultural ruination of the Pashtun Society. On the one hand they have been deprived by forces of neo-conservatism and religiosity of their space in the rural life and reduced to prisoners in their own homes, on the other hand the ever increasing unbridled urbanization and alien cultural influences have cut them off from their traditional edifying roots in their own rich socio –cultural life. This calls for concerted efforts forthe preservation, revival, reclamation and retrieval of the cultural space to stem the downward slide   “Olasi Khor” or Cultural sisterhood is an expression of the reawakening of the common Pashtun women to reclaim their socio-cultural space in the Pashtun and broader society by rekindling the flame of culture and folklore. All is not lost, since vibrant Pashtun women still have the desire to work towards reviving their traditional cultural and time honoured activities to play their vital role in the society. This revival of the cultural pursuits of women has the potential to reclaim their social space, reduce radicalization, channelize the negative alien influences into positive promotion of culture and empower women to regain their rightful place in the socio-politico-economic life. These efforts to revitalize cultural ethos also can positively contribute to bring in much needed tranquility and peace in the society as women not only constitute more than 50% of the population but have deeper influence in the wider family as a mother, a sister, a wife and a daughter. “Olasi Khor” strives to promote, create opportunities for and nurture cultural activities in the Pashtun society particularly focusing on women to achieve our desired objectives of empowering women and regaining the lost socio-cultural space. We also carry out research-based analysis of cultural issues for policy recommendations to the policy makers, both nationally and wider international community, engaged in promotion of women rights and gender equality. Through our publications, writings and debates we discuss cultural issues, social and political aspects of Pashtun women and relevant entities for promoting informed views in the wider society.

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