As our first campaign for the semester, we chose to raise awareness about the human rights situation of women in Afghanistan. In relation to the withdrawal of NATO states during 2013 and 2014, Amnesty International launched a campaign to set women’s rights on the agenda when the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) are to assume lead responsibility for maintaining security across the country. Now is the time for women’s rights, and there will not be peace without women’s rights.
But women’s rights in Afghanistan have not always been like this. Women were allowed to vote in 1919. That is one year earlier than women in the United States. In 1950s, Purdah (gendered separation) was abolished. And in 1960s, it was created a new constitution, which gave more equality to many area of life, including political participation.
This history shows that discrimination against women in Afghanistan is not cultural, but political.
However, the turning point for women’s rights came in 1970, when the Soviet Union invaded the country and the result was a Taliban-led regime. Today, there are on-going threats and violence against women. The threats are especially targeting activists, human rights defenders and public and political figures. One Afghan heroine is Parween. She is a head-teacher at a school for girls. But she has been targeted for empowering girls to know their rights.
Amnesty International has three aims with the campaign:
- Ensure that Afghan women take part in the peace process.
- Make the elimination of violence against women a key priority.
- Support Afghan women human rights defenders and ensure that their rights are protected.
Monday 29 September we organised a photo action in Bristo Square. Our aim was to raise awareness about the situation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. By sharing the pictures we took on Facebook, we have reached not only students outside Teviot, but also people from Norway to Australia.
Take a look at some of the pictures (the rest is on our Facebook page).