The Washington Oxi Day Foundation announced today that the recipient of the 2012 Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award, honoring a woman for courageous action for freedom and democracy, will be Pakistani women’s rights activist Dr. Fouzia Saeed.
Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, is scheduled to present the Battle of Crete Award to Dr. Saeed at the Washington Oxi Day Celebration black tie dinner on Thursday, October 25 at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, DC before hundreds of America’s top policy makers and opinion leaders. Participants will include policymakers from the White House, State Department, Defense Department, US Congress, top US think tanks and human rights groups, leaders and Ambassadors from numerous countries involved in WWII, as well as Greek-American leaders from across the country and WWII veterans.
The first recipient of the Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award was Nobel Peace Laureate and recent Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.
The Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award is inspired by the women of Crete, Greece, who showed tremendous courage in joining the fight against the invading Axis forces during WWII. In reprisal for their bravery: in battle; in hiding and caring for wounded fighters; in smuggling arms and messages when they knew that discovery meant certain death; nearly 1,000 Cretan women were killed and an additional 500 women were deported to Germany for taking part in the defense of their island.
Dr. Saeed is a well-respected social activist who brought issues rarely talked about in Pakistan, like violence against women, sexual harassment and discrimination against women, into the public discourse and mobilized action to address them. By undertaking a very public and courageous fight against sexual harassment at her own workplace, she inspired a broader movement in Pakistan which culminated in legal and societal changes to benefit Pakistani women. She is being recognized with the Battle of Crete Award for her efforts, which both strengthened democracy in Pakistan and led to greater freedoms for women.
This same evening, the 2012 Oxi Day Award, which honors a man who took courageous action to promote or protect freedom and democracy, will be presented to Chinese dissident and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed has spent the last four decades of her career working to improve the lives of women in Pakistan. She began concentrating her efforts on combating sexual harassment when she and other women at her workplace found themselves the victim of sexual harassment by a member of the senior management. They reported the issue to the head of the organization, which responded by trying to discredit the women rather than punish the perpetrator. Dr. Saeed and her colleagues spent the next two years fighting a very public sexual harassment case against the organization, which they ultimately won.
Dr. Saeed’s personal experience led her to mobilize different segments of Pakistani society to form AASHA (An Alliance Against Sexual Harassment). The AASHA movement succeeded in getting many private sector organizations to adopt voluntary, sexual harassment policies, and culminated in 2010, when the Pakistani Parliament passed two laws making sexual harassment a crime in Pakistan for the first time in history. Dr. Saeed was acknowledged on the floor of the National Assembly by the parliamentarians for her efforts and leadership.
To purchase tickets to this event and for more information about the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, please visit www.OxiDayFoundation.org.