Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, women's groups are claiming a rare victory. Last winter, the government was planning to bring battered women's shelters under government control.

Women's rights advocates sprang into action, complaining that the new rules would turn shelters into virtual prisons for women who had run away from home because of abuse. But after a flurry of media attention, the Afghan government agreed to re-examine the issue. And this month, President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet quietly approved a new draft that has support from women's groups.

The objectives of this project were:

  1. To ascertain the nature and extent of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the Ministries of the GoA by means of a questionnaire to be completed anonymously by a sampling of male and female employees of representative Ministries, and
  2. To develop a workshop to educate staff in Ministries regarding sexual harassment and discrimination of women. 

Main Strategies:

This project was implemented by the Foundation of Solidarity for Justice (FSJ), an organisation that has been working in Afghanistan to promote human rights, especially the rights of victims from the conflicts of the past three decades. Women’s Rights Club is FSJ’s new initiative to bring together people from different sectors of society to discuss controversial issues related to Afghan women’s rights within tradition and religion, and to raise public awareness about their rights, including rights to inheritance and property.

The study reviews the formal and customary laws and practices governing the rights of women to inherit land in six South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). The study includes an analysis of existing laws and customs and their impact on inheritance and land rights in all six countries. It also provides recommendations for how to design interventions that can attempt to improve women’s inheritance rights.

Taking the case of the new Shia family law introduced in Afghanistan in 2009, the author argues that international pressure for women’s rights is selective. There is no pressure for granting the Sunni women of Afghanistan or teenagers in Pakistan their rights as human beings. The current phase of condemnation is less about women’s rights and more about achieving the agenda of some Western nations to malign President Karzai’s government. I do not intend to defend President Karzai in any way but at the same time refuse to support this politicization of the Human Rights issue.

Rights & Democracy - Afghanistan is a WLUML networking institution.It has been in operation since 2002, and started by establishing the Women’s Rights in Afghanistan Fund, aimed at financially supporting initiatives launched by Afghan women’s organizations, with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Since April 2007, Rights & Democracy’s team in Afghanistan has been working on a new project entitled A Measure of Equality for Afghan Women: Rights in Practice.

HAWCA is an Afghan national NGO dedicated to working for the social wellbeing of all people with a particular focus on women and children who live in Afghanistan or in refugee communities in Pakistan. HAWCA recognises that violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent forms of discrimination in Afghanistan. The organisation provides direct help and assistance to women facing violence and uses its experience to raise awareness within the communities of Afghanistan, with the national government and internationally.

AWSDC is a non profit organization established in 1999 with programming focusing on the needs of Afghan women, including widows and the disabled or chronically ill, and orphan children. The goals of AWSDC are to reduce the suffering of Afghan women and children through promotion of peace and initiation of rehabilitation and development oriented projects reaching the most vulnerable populations in the remote and urban areas of Afghanistan. Currently it is functioning through a central office in Kabul, Afghanistan.

AWN is comprised of over 3000 individual members from Afghanistan and Pakistan and over 72 Afghan women non-government organizations. AWN was created in 1995 by Afghan women as they recognized the value of working collaboratively towards their common goals. The network members work in both Pakistan and Afghanistan to the benefit of all Afghan women: refugees, rural women and educated women. As a representational and capacity building body, AWN is playing a critical role in the transition and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s 30 million hectares of pasture lands represent 45 percent of the total land area and are key to livelihood and water catchment in the exceedingly dry country. This is one of the case studies in this report which addresses the tenure fate of three commons in conflict affected states (the other two are Liberia and Sudan). The report, however, does not address women’s access to this valuable resource.
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