Radio debates focus on women’s rights in Afghanistan's south
KANDAHAR - Raising awareness about women’s rights and gender-based violence was the aim of a series of UN-backed radio debates in the country’s southern province of Zabul.
Panellists in the radio programmes, supported by the Kandahar regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as part of broader campaign against gender-based violence, discussed multiple aspects of women’s rights and gender-based violence in and around Zabul.
“Illiteracy is one of the major factors contributing to violence against women in Zabul,” said Fauzia Younusi Kakar, a provincial council member and a panellist in one of the debates. “Because of this, some families do not understand that women’s rights are granted both by Islamic law and civil law.”
Another panellist, Dr. Sayed Shinkai, described over the airwaves that in her 10 years of service, she has treated hundreds of women who had been beaten by their family members. “The most recent, which I can hardly forget, was a women who was beaten harshly by her husband and succumbed to her injuries,” she said.
Zabul neighbours four other Afghan provinces, and shares a border with Pakistan. Sparsely populated and mostly rural, Zabul is considered one of the most underdeveloped provinces in the country.
In Zabul, as in other areas of Afghanistan, women and girls continue to face several challenges, including forced marriage, domestic violence and other violations of their rights. It is estimated that most of the cases of violence against women are not reported because of fear of reprisal.
With radio being the most effective communications platform to deliver information, particularly to remote, rural communities, the UN-backed series of programmes in Zabul reached an audience estimated at 200,000 people in and around the province.
“The programmes have had a positive impact on the communities in Zabul because they have helped raise public awareness to reduce violence against women,” said Mohammad Akbar, a Zabul resident interviewed by Shaikh Mati radio as a follow-up to the radio series.
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 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.