PARIS - Two young Pakistani women Gulalai Ismail and Saba Ismail, cofounders of NGO ‘Aware Girls’, have been awarded the prestigious Fondation Chirac Prize for ‘Conflict Prevention’ in recognition of their work for promoting peace, women's issues and equality in Pakistan.

The prize was awarded by former French minister for culture Chirstine Albanel in a ceremony held in Quai Branly Museum, Paris yesterday. The ceremony was attended amongst others by French President Francois Hollande, Pakistani Ambassador to France Moin-ul-Haque, intellectuals, members of civil society, diplomats and media persons in a large number.

Gulalai Ismail, addressing the ceremony after receiving the prize, said that their NGO with the help of young women is working successfully for empowerment of the women especially in the conflict zones to bring about qualitative changes in their way of life.

“You try to change the system and those who are beneficiaries of the old system try to resist and want to hurt you. They do propaganda against you so to suppress you. They scare you so much that you go silent," Gulalai Ismail, told media, after receiving the award.

The French president, while speaking on the occasion, paid rich tribute to Aware Girls for empowering the women in the conflict zones. He said that Aware Girls is giving the women the possibility to participate in and monitor elections, providing them education and economically empowering them by providing micro-credit.

The ambassador congratulated the recipients on receiving the Chirac Prize and appreciated their work towards empowerment of women in the conflict-prone areas.

The Chirac Fondation was launched by the former French President Jacques Chirac, who served two terms in office between 1995 and 2007. Since 2008, this Fondation strives for peace through five advocacy programmes which include Conflict Prevention. The prize for conflict prevention has been awarded every year since 2009.

The Aware Girls is a young women-led organisation, established in 2002 with the aim at strengthening leadership skills of young people especially women and girls enabling them to act as agents of change for women empowerment and peace building.