EWC Alumna Receives Women’s Human Rights Activities Award

Tahira Firdous (Photo Credit: Yayori Award website)

Earlier this 2010, EWC Scholarship Program Specialist, Kim Small (IEP 90-95,  PIDP 95-96), nominated EWC Alumna Tahira Firdous (EP 07-09) from India/Kashmir for the 2010 Yayori Award.

The Yayori Award focuses on women activists, journalists, and artists who work at the grassroots level with socially marginalized peoples in order to create a 21st century free from war and discrimination against women. Younger activists are especially encouraged to apply so that the Yayori Award can support future leaders. Each year an individual or a group is selected from mainly the Asian region and offered an award certificate and a prize amount of 500,000 yen.

Tahira Firdous is the 2010 recipient of the Yayori Award.

Tahira is a documentary filmmaker and social activist from Kashmir. She was awarded a Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP) graduate scholarship for her commitment to social justice issues. As an IFP Fellow, Tahira completed her master’s degree in Communication in the United States while producing two documentaries. She also worked with different media organizations in the U.S. as a journalist. At present, she is working on a new documentary that focuses on torture and rape victims in Kashmir. She is committed to highlighting human rights violations through the art of documentary filmmaking.

Tahira has been involved with diverse social justice issues as part of her work at the Human Aid Society (an NGO in Kashmir) and as a journalist and filmmaker. Currently, she is working on a documentary about torture and rape victims in Kashmir – a film that will highlight the suffering such victims endure. She is also trying to motivate international civil society, through organizations like CODE PINK (an international anti-war group mainly composed of women) and Torture Abolition & Survivors Support Coalition International (a group founded by torture survivors that seeks to end the practice of torture and empower torture survivors), to get involved in highlighting the sorry state of human rights in Kashmir.

There is no available record of torture victims in Kashmir. Tahira’s film project would be the first of its kind. She had previously documented some testimony from Kashmiri torture victims and in doing so discovered their numbers are very high. That is why she has chosen to produce a  documentary that will hopefully promote international awareness and action.

Here is a summary of Tahira’s work as a film producer:

Torture and Rape Victims in Kashmir, project currently under development.

“Urdu Press in India”, worked as Assistant Director on this project in 2009-10.

“Between Terror TV and Alternative News Voices: Al Jazeera Speaks” is a 50-minute documentary film completed in 2009 that highlights the role of Al Jazeera-English in the global news industry. This film was screened at the 2010 Al Jazeera International Film Festival 2010, and the 2010 New York International Independent Film Festival.

“Bridging the Gaps” is a 20-minute short documentary highlighting the need of interfaith dialogue in the United States. This documentary was screened at the 2008 UNESCO Human Rights Forum.

“In the Light of History” is a documentary completed in 2005 on historical monuments in Kashmir.

The 2010 Yayori Award presentation will be held in Tokyo on Saturday December 4th, 2010.