As some of you know, I created a not-for-profit organization 10 years ago called Global Peace Initiative of Women. Since its founding I have worked with young people and leaders from many different sectors of society around the world to foster peace initiatives in troubled global hot spots. I view this as part of the way in which I give back to the world.
We at Finn Partners talk about ourselves as global citizens, and about being people who care about the welfare of others. It is very important that these thoughts and wishes be realized through concrete actions. That is why I have devoted so much of myself to this effort. I know that Peter and I share this commitment to giving back to the world and I also know that so many of the Finn Partners staff feel the same way.
I thought I should share my latest effort in this area:
For the past few months I have been working to organize a dialogue with young professionals from Kashmir, India. Since the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan, Kashmir has been one of the disputed areas, with part of it under Indian control and part under the control of Pakistan. Since independence, India and Pakistan had fought several wars over Kashmir, and there have been ongoing incidents of violence.
As part of my global peace work, I made several trips to Kashmir, India, and in a recent visit had been introduced to a very talented young man who had created a peace network of young people. Some of the young people in his network had been involved in the conflict. I was impressed by his use of the media to promote messages of peace. Kashmir stands at a critical juncture.
The young people are tired of conflict and there is a sense that the jihadist and separatist movement that has torn the region apart these last few decades is weakening. The young people now have a chance to shift the energy from the political to the social and economic. And we found that this is what they desperately want. Two weeks ago my team and I sat with about 200 young Kashmiris at a gathering in Srinigar that we had organized, and we listened to their concerns and hopes for the future.
There was little talk of political independence but much talk of the environmental degradation that has taken place over the last decades. Not too long ago Kashmir was considered to be one of the paradises of the world, known for its natural beauty and artistic culture. As we listened to the young people talk about the pollution in Dahl Lake, the dying rivers, the deforestation, the air pollution, the loss of farm land, we realized that their concerns were immediate and practical.
During our two days together they discussed a new development paradigm, ecologically based, that will help heal and bring the region together. It was an important first step. The young people asked for our assistance is helping them continue their dialogue. They formed a working group, which we will help facilitate.
Our hope is that we can continue to inspire them to use their energies for the building of a new Kashmir, prosperous and ecologically healthy.