9 March 2013 – Afghan women and men from all walks of life marked the International Women’s Day last week with UNAMA-backed women role models talking to youth in provinces calling for promotion women’s rights and justice.
The City of Herat in Afghanistan’s west and the capital Kabul also hosted simultaneously the country’s first international women’s film festival featuring 30 films from around the world from 7 to 9 March. One of the organizers, Roya Sadat, told an audience in Herat on 7 March that one of the objectives of the festival was “to see the world through the eyes of women”.
One of the role models in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Balkh province, Razia Qateh, told a 300-strong audience that the formula of her success was “not losing hope and not giving up”. The former schoolteacher, college professor and aid worker said she managed to convince even the strict Taliban regime to let her run training and education projects for women.
Also in Mazar-i-Sharif, coinciding with the International Women’s Day, the UN World Food Programme began distributing food package to 1,200 vulnerable women for four months. The monthly package includes 50 kilograms of wheat, two litres of cooking oil, eight kilograms of pulses, 500 gram of iodized salt and 50 saplings to be planted in their backyard.
In the eastern City of Jalalabad, a female role model, Arian Yoon, spoke before 400 school students. The 7 March event was broadcast live by the local radio and television channels. The parliamentarian representing the City said she would strongly encourage girls to go to school and “play a good role in serving their country and the people”. Local radio stations broadcast special programmes and round-table discussions on various aspects of women’s life and their rights.
In the neighbouring Laghman province, which saw the assassination of two directors of the provincial Department of Women’s Affairs last year, local authorities set up a hotline telephone number – 6464 – to receive complaints of violation of women’s rights.
In one of the biggest of such gatherings in Herat on 6 March, women from diverse professions including sportswomen, businesswomen, school and university teachers, physically challenged women, policewomen and female journalists paraded in front of about 1,000-strong audience. The event made the Provincial Governor, Dr. Doud Shah Saba, feel “so hopeful for a brighter future of women in the province”.
Echoing the message of UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, the UNAMA’s head for the country’s western region, Andrew MacGregor, said the women of Afghanistan must play a key role “in this historically significant year of transition when preparations for the 2014 elections and the dialogue on national reconciliation are underway”.
In northeastern Badakshan province, a role model, Maryam Amwaj, said participation of women in political process didn’t just mean to be a member of a political party. “Your participation in the elections as the candidates and voters could be political participation as well,” said Mr. Amwaj, the head of a civil society organization, the Afghan for Afghan Women. Another role model, Nafiza Natiq, who works for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urged young women to participate in Afghanistan’s socio-economic development.
The UNAMA’s head for the province, Tomoko Kubota, said, “I would like to urge more women to work in government departments. Social recognition is not a gift from someone, you need to fight for it.”
Similar events were organized in other provinces including in southeastern Paktya province, where 600 people gathered at a ceremony to mark the Day.
Compiled by UNAMA Kabul