New radio series highlights importance of eliminating violence against women

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KUNDUZ - As part of the UN’s annual 16 days of activities aimed at raising awareness about ending violence against women, radio stations in Afghanistan’s north-eastern provinces have launched a series of programmes underscoring that a life free from all forms of violence is the right of every Afghan woman and girl.

Featuring discussion by women’s rights activists, civil society representatives, religious scholars and government officials, the radio programmes, are putting a spotlight on gender-based violence, including measures to strengthen implementation of Afghanistan’s Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) legislation.

“We need serious enforcement of EVAW,” said Mohammad Zahir Musleh, a Kunduz human rights activist and panellist in one of the programmes, all of which are supported by the Kunduz regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Although the Afghan government has taken steps to improve the welfare of women and eliminate gender-based violence through legislation, the situation remains unchanged for many women across Afghanistan, especially in remote areas of the country where harmful traditional practices are prevalent.

“Violence against women in Afghanistan must immediately stop,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, in a 25 November statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

“For Afghan women to achieve their full potential and their immense capacity in development, in peace and in security, the violations of the rights of women and girls, particularly through violence, must cease,” the UN envoy stated.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked every year by the United Nations on 25 November, represents the start of the global campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. This year’s 16 Days theme, ‘Leave No One Behind,’ reflects the importance of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres.

Through the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, supported by United Nations, the Afghan government is initiating advocacy and awareness-raising activities to address issues of violence against women and girls in Afghanistan. The campaign runs until 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

Recalling the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, the UN has recommitted itself to support efforts by Afghan institutions and civil society to empower women and girls, and to promote the protection of their right to be free from fear, intimidation and all forms of violence.

The radio campaign in Afghanistan’s north-east began airing on 25 November in Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar and Badakhshan, and will run throughout the entire 16 days of activism. The broadcasts are expected to reach more than 600,000 residents across the four provinces.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.