Education key to ending violence and advancing women’s rights say participants

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JALALABAD – Providing women with access to education, reducing poverty and promoting human rights are among the most sustainable ways of eliminating violence against women said participants at UN-backed events in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar.

In a series of public events, along with radio and television programmes aimed at promoting the rights of women, participants representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders and communities including civil society, women organisations, tribal elders and provincial authorities voiced their to commitment to improving the welfare of women and working to eliminate violence against women (EVAW) in the eastern region.

During a televised debate on Sharq TV in Jalalabad city, panellists who included women, said violence against women had become endemic in the region and called for urgent and collective action.

“Every individual, not just the government, should act and speak out against violence in homes, workplaces and social settings,” said Hashema Sharif, of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. “Only the combined efforts from all parts of the society can bring results,” stated Sharif.

In an interactive session with a mostly student audience, panellists agreed on the need for systematic, deliberate and long-lasting measures for ending violence against women. “The best way to deal with the problem is to empower women through education and by consistent implementation of the EVAW law,” said Nimatullah Hamdard, the regional coordinator for the Civil Society and Human Rights Network in eastern region.

Women in the eastern region, like in most parts of the country face different forms of violence. Many factors, including poverty, illiteracy, harmful traditional practices and violent extremism make women, especially those in remote provinces more susceptible to violence and abuse. While Afghanistan has made strides in addressing women’s rights with legislation such as the EVAW law and the National Action Plan - drawing from the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security - a lot remains to be achieved. At several forums participants have cited several factors that hinder women from reporting violence cases including stereotyping and negative attitudes by community members and law enforcement officials in particular.

UNAMA’s regional office in Jalalabad in partnership with media partners across the three provinces, including Sharq TV and Safa Radio in Jalalabad, Zala TV in Kunar and Raghun radio in Laghman provinces produced the programmes as part of a countrywide outreach programme aimed at creating platforms using radio, television, and social media for local communities to engage in dialogue and discuss critical issues affecting them. An estimated audience of 2million were reached including through social media platforms.

In making their recommendations, speakers and participants underscored the importance of women’s education as a long-term and sustainable measure for protecting and advancing the rights of women.