Afghanistan

UN-backed radio campaign focuses on women’s rights in Afghanistan’s south

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KANDAHAR - Raising awareness about women’s rights and gender-based violence is the aim of a new UN-backed radio campaign in the country’s southern provinces of Zabul, Kandahar and Helmand.

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, are focusing on multiple aspects of women’s rights in and around Kandahar.

To address issues and challenges unique to the women living in Afghanistan’s southern region, radio stations in the provinces are launching the programming this week once they complete a series of meetings with women’s rights activist in the three provinces.

“This is the first time that we have consulted on women’s issues with a radio station,” said Ms. Fariba Ahmadi, the manager of Kandahar Treasure, a civil society group that works to protect women’s rights.

“Women, in general, face scores of challenges here, including access to education, health and work, and are subjected to different forms of violence in their communities,” she said. “The radio campaign is focusing on how to raise awareness about women’s rights.”

In the southern provinces, as in other areas of the country, Afghan women and girls continue to face several challenges, including forced and early marriages, domestic violence – both physical and mental – and other forms of violence.

According to UN reporting, most of the cases of violence against women go unreported because of fear of reprisal from family members. These unreported cases of violence are more numerous in remote areas, where access to formal justice mechanisms is reduced.

Radio programming is one of the most effective ways to reach remote communities. When the local radio stations complete the broadcasts during the next few weeks, an audience estimated in the hundreds of thousands will have heard the programming.

“Illiteracy and ignorance are the major factors contributing to gender-based violence in Zabul,” said Ms. Sadiqa Jalali, Zabul’s head of the provincial Women’s Affairs Department. “If our people are educated, they will know about the rights of women.”

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.