I was in a meeting today when it hit me; I really believe in what I am doing here. It’s a good feeling. I am in the process of writing a proposal to get support for a project that will attempt to curb gender-based violence in Afghanistan. At first I was a little bit cynical. I thought the plan was a bit ambitious and what would a bunch of trainings really do? Then I realized that everything, every great movement, had to start somewhere. This start is as good as any. Why couldn’t this work?
I posted a blog a few weeks ago about the many woes of gender-based violence. It is a horrifying problem here. Over a year after the approval of Afghanistan’s constitution, conditions for women in Afghanistan remain challenging: an illiteracy rate of 85 percent, female-headed households living in dire poverty, and an inability to access training and economic opportunities. Rates of self-immolation and violence against women at home and on the street have increased in the so-called post-conflict period. Women are struggling to be heard and to find alternatives to lives of despair.
There is no quick and easy solution, but that has not deterred AWN from addressing the problem. The proposal that I am writing now is to extend a project that trains people in the provinces of Afghanistan about gender-based violence and women’s legal rights. Previously, trainers traveled to six provinces and conducted three trainings over a three month period in the provinces. The trainings were to generate awareness among influential citizens and authority figures in the community, such as various governmental heads, doctors, schoolteachers, mullahs, etc. In turn, these citizens have started campaigns in their communities to share their knowledge to create awareness among the general public, including uneducated people in remote villages
The campaigns are now coming to a close and have shown many positive results. Many people have been educated about the rights of females in society and the campaigns have brought a lot of media attention, further spreading awareness in communities. Participants who took part in the training were very receptive to the material and gave positive feedback.
Now it is AWN’s goal to extend this campaign to 18 more provinces in the next three years. By 2010, AWN hopes to have the entire country educated about gender-based violence and women’s legal rights. It is ambitious, but not overly so.
Posted By Carrie Hasselback (Afghanistan)
Posted Jul 24th, 2005