Tackling Gender-Based Violence

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Workshops educate women about their rights

17 January 2012 | Kunduz, Afghanistan

USAID is strengthening the capacity of women-focused civil-society organizations to contribute to the social, economic, and political development of women throughout Afghanistan.

Women throughout Afghanistan are often deprived of their rights to education and employment. They are subjected to domestic violence, forced into marriage, and excluded from inheritance. The main reason for this injustice against women is men and women‟s lack of awareness about women‟s rights.

Manizha is a young woman who witnessed many injustices against women in her community in Kunduz Province. With a commitment to challenge these inequalities, she established the Afghan Women Association of Kunduz. After obtaining a USAID grant, she launched a campaign to promote gender advocacy, the elimination of violence against women, and educate communities about women‟s rights according to Islam.

Through this grant, her association now conducts workshops throughout Kunduz City, Ali Abad District, and Khan Abad District. Each workshop lasts three days and includes 20 participants ranging from housewives to university teachers and students who come from throughout the province. Manizha coordinated with government departments to allocate space for the workshops. “It is important to have the backing of government in conducting these types of workshops,” said Manizha.

Each woman is spreading the word in her community and informing other women about Afghan government and Islamic laws that are designed to protect women from injustices. The initiative inspires women to stand for their rights and speak out against injustice in their community. According to Geya, the director of the Directorate of Women‟s Affairs, “Kunduz is a multi-cultural society. It‟s regarded as „little Afghanistan‟, but it is very traditional.”

Campaigns like Manizha‟s are reinstating women‟s position in the community and giving them a voice to express themselves.