PUL-E-KHUMRI - Close collaboration at the community level is crucial to protect and promote the fundamental rights and freedoms of women, said participants at a UN-backed symposium in the northeastern province of Baghlan.
During the event, led by Governor Abdul Hai Nemati, participants discussed improving community coordination to protect the rights of women and using national and international legal instruments to guide all efforts in fighting gender-based violence.
Those attending the event, including rights advocates, members of women’s organizations and officials from the provincial commission on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW), agreed that all Afghans should play their part as advocates for women’s rights.
“Eliminating violence against women requires public awareness, good coordination and enforcing the law,” said Fatana Hedyat, a rights advocate who stressed that laws alone are insufficient without widespread awareness or enforcement.
In 2009, the Afghan Government enacted EVAW legislation that criminalizes many acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. However, violence against women still is common in Baghlan and in many other parts of the country, with many cases mediated through informal mechanisms.
A joint report published earlier this year by UNAMA – Injustice and Impunity: Mediation of Criminal Offences of Violence Against Women – outlines the human rights implications involved in informal mediation and indicates that the practice cannot replace the formal judicial protections provided to women by the laws of Afghanistan.
In closing the symposium, participants agreed on closer collaboration to protect the rights of women and girls, and discussed revising the terms of reference for the provincial commission on EVAW to establish a technical committee to support the commission’s work more effectively.
Facilitated by UNAMA’s regional office in Kunduz, the event was part of a series of outreach initiatives aimed at creating opportunities using radio, television and social media for local communities to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting them.
Baghlan, one of the country’s four northeast provinces, connects the north and northeastern regions of Afghanistan through the Salang Pass to the country’s capital, Kabul. The province, characterized by mountainous terrain with seasonable river valleys, is known for its cement and sugar factories, along with its textile production.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.