eShe Indo-Pak Peace Summit Led by Women, January 2020

Forty eminent women from around the world converged on one platform to seek solutions for peace between India and Pakistan over two days in January.

The Indo-Pak Peace Summit Led by Women, organized by eShe, took a grassroots approach to ending the conflict between the two nations by creating a space for non-political cross-border conversations to celebrate shared heritage and language, common interests and social issues.

With five panels ranging from discussions on literature, cinema, art, culture, business and youth activism, the Summit saw the presence of peace builders such as three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Scilla Elworthy; Padma Shri awardee and eminent peace activist Dr Meenakshi Gopinath; award-winning filmmakers such as Mehreen Jabbar, Sabiha Sumar and Alankrita Shrivastava; and notable authors Sheela Reddy and Moni Mohsin.


Dr Scilla Elworthy, peace builder, author and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee (UK) on Yin Intelligence in Action (video below)
Dr Meenakshi Gopinath, Padma Shri awardee, political scientist and founder of WISCOMP on the role of women in peace building (video below)
Radhya Almutawakel, Yemeni human-rights defender, on how women must organise for peace (video below)
Gurmehar Kaur, student leader and Indo-Pak peace activist, on acts of peace and freedom (video below)
Sabiha Sumar, multiple award-winning filmmaker, on the lens of humanity, and capturing the essence of India and Pakistan through cinema (video below)

+ a workshop on ‘How to Understand Your Biases and Stop Being Played by Technology’, by Shweta Bhandral (video below).

PANEL 1: Power of the Written Word: How Literature Can Build and Rebuild Ties

Alice Albinia, award-winning author and scholar of South Asian history (UK)
Moni Mohsin, columnist and bestselling novelist (Pakistan)
Natasha Badhwar, filmmaker, columnist, author, media team lead at Karwan e Mohabbat (India)
Preeti Gill, publisher and founder of Majha House (India)
Sheela Reddy, book critic and author of Mr and Mrs Jinnah (India)
ModeratorMehvash Amin, publisher and editor of The Aleph Review (Pakistan)

The panel saw fascinating dialogues on community building through our shared history, language and even sense of humour.

Acclaimed Pakistani writer and essayist Bina Shah was also scheduled to be on this panel but unfortunately could not make it. However, she took the time to answer questions from the moderator Mehvash Amin. Read her views here.

Click here for the full report. Video below.

PANEL 2: Trust Economy: Empowering Communities Through Business and Culture

Anshu Khanna, award-winning founder of The Royal Fables exposition (India)
Avni Sethi, interdisciplinary artist and founder of Conflictorium Museum (India)
Natasha Noorani, musician and ethnomusicologist (Pakistan)
Sanya Dhir, creative director of couture label Diva’ni (India)
Reema Abbasi, senior sociopolitical journalist, author, peace and human-rights activist(Pakistan)
Vaishnavi Kumari of Kishangarh, founder of Studio Kishangarh (India)
ModeratorSonya Rehman, art and culture journalist, founder of
culture platform From Lahore With Love (Pakistan)

The panelists had a stimulating conversation about history, heritage, and even conflict-resolution and the meaning of democracy.

Click here for the full report. Video below.

PANEL 3: Documenting Heritage: Keeping Bonds Alive Through Art and Design

Amna Shariff, jewellery designer and craft connoisseur (Pakistan)
Masooma Syed, artist and art academic (Pakistan)
Mehr F Husain, journalist and author of Pakistan: A Fashionable History (Pakistan)
Reena Saini Kallat, artist, sculptor and photographer (India)
Ritu Khandelwal, architect and palace restorer (India)
Suparna Handa, managing director, Sarita Handa luxury home design (India)
ModeratorSuparnaa Chadda, founder of the SABERA Awards (India)

The panelist discussed the art and design links between the two countries, and especially how political borders have not only stalled the preservation and evolution of ancient crafts but also created logistical hurdles in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people with families and professional interests on both sides.

Click here for the full report. Video below.

PANEL 4: What Works: How Global Youth Organisations Are Leading the Way

Dr Devika Mittal, scholar and convener at Indo-Pak peace initiative Aaghaz-e-Dosti (India)
Isha Jerath, National VP, youth organisation AIESEC (Switzerland)
Kirthi Jayakumar, feminist researcher, founder of The Gender Security Project and Saahas (India)
Saadia Gardezi, political cartoonist, journalist and co-founder of Project Dastaan (Pakistan)
Tooba Tahir, art educator, peace agent, Salamti Fellow (Pakistan)
ModeratorAnanya Jain, racial equality representative, University of St Andrews (Scotland)

The six young women discussed their own work in the area of peacebuilding and brought out the narratives that slip through the cracks when we talk of peace and justice.

Click here for full report. Video below.

PANEL 5: Firing Imaginations Not Bullets: How Cinema Paves the Way to Peace

Alankrita Shrivastava, acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter (India)
Haya Fatima Iqbal, Academy and two-time Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker (Pakistan)
Mehreen Jabbar, award-winning film and television director and producer (USA)
Sapna Bhavnani, director and producer of Sindhustan documentary (India)
Shailja Kejriwal, chief creative officer – special projects, Zee Entertainment (India)
Tazeen Bari, documentary director, producer and cinematographer (Pakistan)
ModeratorPravishi Das, actor and conflict-resolution specialist (India)

The panel of powerful directors and producers firmly concluded that cinema could change perspectives and create empathy and harmony in society.   

Click here for full report. Video below.

TALK: Yin Intelligence in Action

Speaker: Dr Scilla Elworthy, peace builder and author

Quote: “Regeneration as a quality of Feminine Intelligence is based on the simple fact that the female body is in tune with reproduction and with the cycles of the moon. Indigenous leaders have long been telling us that decisions must be made not in the interests of the next quarterly figures but with the interests of the next seven generations in mind.”

Click here for the full transcript of the speech. Video below.

DISCUSSION: The Role of Women in Peace Building

Speakers: Dr Scilla Elworthy in conversation with Dr Meenakshi Gopinath

Quote: “Women who build peace today are disobedient women, they are difficult women. These are women who are able to recognise that a stable situation is not necessarily a peaceful one, or a just one.”

Read the report here. Video below.

TALK: Acts of Peace and Freedom

Speaker: Gurmehar Kaur, student activist and author

Quote: “There is freedom in dissent. True freedom looks like a place where I am not weighed down by trauma, where I’m not weighed down by state narratives, where I am free to talk about whatever I want to talk about, where I’m free to question the definitions of nation and the creation of a nation, where I’m free to question the purpose of that creation of the nation.”

Click here for full report. Video below.

TALK: Women Must Organise for Peace

Speaker: Radhya Almutawakel, award-winning human-rights activist from Yemen, founder of Mwatana for Human Rights

Quote: “Women need to have a platform – NGO, an initiative, or media platform. If they don’t have this kind of tool in order to push for peace or put their demands forward, they will not be able to do anything.”

Click here for full report. Video below.

DISCUSSION: Lens of Humanity – The Essence of India and Pakistan in Cinema

Speakers: Sabiha Sumar, multiple award-winning filmmaker and Sundance alumnus, in conversation with eShe’s editor Aekta Kapoor

Quote: “I think things have begun to converge, paradoxically, between India and Pakistan. Pakistan started out saying it’s an Islamic state, with a religious identity. India started out as a secular country and it’s going toward that. My idea [through Azmaish] was to explore why that is happening, and can India learn from Pakistan about what it means to take on a religious identity. Does India question that?”

Read the report here. Video below.


Title: How to Understand Your Biases and Stop Being Played by Technology

Speaker: Shweta Bhandral, senior media professional and a Google News Initiative India Network Trainer

Video below.



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