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Nadiya Shafi, Video Reporter From Srinagar Wins the Martha Farrell Award (Picture: Nadiya Shafi, Facebook)

Video reporter Nadiya Shafi has won this year’s Martha Farrell Award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment. The journalist from Srinagar won the award that carries a cash prize of Rs. 1.50 lakh for her commitment towards gender equality while constantly challenging the patriarchal norms of her hometown. She leads gender discussion clubs in Srinagar that engage people of the place in discussions about sexuality, patriarchy and gender inequality.

Nadiya won the ‘Most Promising Individual’ trophy with the award.

In a social media post announcing the award, Shafi said that working in Kashmir gave her an insight about the society she lived in. ‘I have been working with men and women for last 4 years and travelling to difficult areas, and documenting the stories which hardly become a news anywhere. I feel travelling deep and far has given me more courage over the time,’ she said.

The Kashmir valley is one of the most militarized zones in India with a civilian to security personnel ratio of 1:7. It is one of the areas in the country where Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is in place giving inordinate power to the military to capture, question and kill civilians on suspicion.

‘Her work as a video reporter brings out the nuances of a society in conflict and how gender structures get affected by it. Her work and fearlessness will ease the path for the coming generation of strong and independent women in Jammu and Kashmir,’ said a note from the Martha Farrel Foundation.

Nadiya intends to expand her clubs to Shopian and Phulwama districts of southern Kashmir. These areas are among the most disturbed in its history of military suppression.

Dr. Martha Farrel was an activist for gender equality and women’s empowerment and the award is instituted in her memory. It is co-sponsored by Rizwan Adatia Foundation (RAF) and Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA). Martha was killed in Kabul in a terrorist attack in 2015, while leading a gender training workshop for the Aga Khan Foundation.

Nadiya said that the award would make her resolve stronger to work towards her cause with ‘even more conviction.’

Resource and Support Centre for Development (RSCD), received the ‘best organisation for gender equality’ award. The Maharashtra based organization including women in political processes across 30 districts of Maharashtra.

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