Webinar – April 24, 2021
11:00 am – 12:30pm EDT
A Graduate Women International (GWI) Membership Marketplace NFA-to-NFA Partnership Project Webinar organized by the Canadian
Federation of University Women (CFUW) and GWI-Netherlands (GWI-NL)
Webinar Concept Notes
Afghan women are asking for our help: we must listen to them and add our voices to theirs. At the 24 April Webinar, three remarkable Afghan women will tell us personally what must be done to ensure women’s rights in the present Afghan Peace Talks. Please join for this important interactive event.
Peace talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban have given the people of Afghanistan optimism that the 40 years of violence and war will end. But they do not want peace at any price and are extremely concerned that the Taliban will try to return the country the dark days of 1996 when women were forced to remain in their homes, veiled from head to foot, denied education and medical care, and whipped, stoned, and killed for small or imagined crimes. They have good reason to be afraid.
THE CLOCK CANNOT BE TURNED BACK
The past 20 years have seen women and girls return to school, take their places in all levels of society and work in public service, justice, security services and a range of other occupations. Their rights are guaranteed within the current Constitution and so it remains crucial. The vast majority of Afghans do not want a peace agreement that denies women schooling. They believe women should be able to work outside the home, particularly in occupations such as teaching and in medical settings. There is strong support for women to seek leadership positions.
In many areas currently controlled by the Taliban schools have been closed. Parents fear for their children’s safety and remove their children from school. Women are being forced to leave jobs. The last year has seen more attacks and greater violence than at any time in the last 20 years.
WOMEN ARE BEING KILLED
Over the past year the Taliban and other insurgents have targeted places such as maternity hospitals and girls’ schools to murder and intimidate women and their families. Female leaders such as judges, media personalities, and heads of women’s organizations have been assassinated. They tried to kill a woman on the Afghan government negotiating team. There is said to be a “hit list” of high-profile women to be executed. Many women have been forced to flee.
THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY
More than 60 per cent of the Afghan population are between 0 and 24 years old. Without a safe, educated, inclusive society, the country will be fertile ground for extremists to attract disaffected youth to their ranks. Girls and boys, men and women, need a chance to have peaceful, productive lives and not be forced to endure an oppressive, violent future.
THE FUTURE FOR OTHER COUNTRIES
With the legitimacy given them, and the concessions gained through negotiations with the United States, the Taliban are looking and feeling like victors already. Other fundamentalist groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Shabab in other Muslim-majority countries are watching closely and being encouraged. Women in these countries could also see a life as second class citizens.
NO COUNTRY CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT THE PRODUCTIVITY OF HALF THEIR CITIZENS.