HAWCA’s Rep. in UN Panel: Afg Women and Girls Today – Realities and Challenges



Ms. Selay Ghaffar, Executive Director of HAWCA, was one of the main speakers in High Level Panel of UN Human Rights Council – Session 17: AFGHANISTAN WOMEN AND GIRLS TODAY - REALITIES AND CHALLENGES in Palais des Nations, Geneva, on June 9, 2011. The panel was organized and sponsored by International Federation of University Women – IFUW, Great Britain – Kabul, Women’s UN Report Network - WUNRN, Worldwide Organization for Women – WOW and Women’s Federation for World Peace International – WFWPI.

Ms. Ghaffar’s speech mainly focused on the points: i- violence against women in access to justice, education, health and violence and discrimination in workplace; ii- EVAW Law, Shelter Regulation and Traditional Dispute Mechanism in Afghanistan; iii- Peace and Reconciliation Process and role of women.

She said that today women and girl in Afghanistan are more subjected to different kinds of violence and discrimination than any other period. Women face violence in access to justice due to poor capacity of law enforcement agencies and culture of impunity for perpetrators. Girls education are always targeted by burning schools and closing gates of girls schools; poisoning and throwing acid on face of school girls; kidnapping and raping girls on the way to school and less efforts from government to promote girls education. She added that security is another major issue which bans women’s access to education, health care and other basic services.
While addressing the panel discussion, she said that today women and girls are exposing to different level of violence starting from family to community and to state violence. To end impunity for perpetrators, there should be a quick response mechanism which can provide legal assistance and protection to women. HAWCA as one of the women NGOs in Afghanistan is running shelter and legal aid and psycho-social centers in few provinces of the country in order to protect victims of violence.

Afghanistan has the most weak, unprofessional and corrupt judicial system. The real face of judiciary was exposed when they passed Shia’t Personal Law and recently the draft of so-called Shelter Regulation. The Shelter Regulation aimed on depriving women NGOs of their rights to run shelters for victims of violence and hand over the shelter management to Ministry of Women Affairs. This step was taken to just hide violence exploiting women by the government officials including MPs and their sons that we are currently witnessing. Fortunately, the strong action of Afghan women activists and many international pressures forced the government to revise the regulation.
During the discussion on Peace and Reconciliation Process, she showed her concerns regarding women’s and children rights to be negotiated on peace talks with opposition armed groups that will ban women from all walks of life.
At the end, she emphasized on the point that HAWCA will work with all other stakeholders towards women empowerment and make sure women and children rights are protected.

The other speakers in the panel were: Ms. Georgette Gagnon, Director Human Rights Unit & Representative OHCHR – UNAMA; Ms. Shoukria Haifar, President - NEGAR; Ms. Chantal Véron – Director of Humanitarian Projects for Women & Children in Afghanistan;  Dr. Elizabeth Mason Nash, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child, & Adolescent Health – WHO; Ms. Jessica Mosbahi, Officer for Women’s Rights & Policy - Medica Mondiale; and Ms. Lois A. Herman – WUNRN.