The Foreign Secretary and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, co-chaired the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict on 10-13 June 2014 at ExCel London.

This was the largest gathering ever brought together on the subject, with 1,700 delegates and 129 country delegations including 79 Ministers. The Summit agreed practical steps to tackle impunity for the use of rape as a weapon of war, and to begin to change global attitudes to these crimes.

During the Summit there were over 175 public events in London, and an 84-hour global relay of events around the world.

Najia Karimi the executive director of HAWCA was invited to this event by Womankind Worldwide.

‘Different contexts, shared reality: working with women and girls facing conflict’

This was a joint event with GAPS, IRC and Womankind. Speakers included Magdalena Aquilin Mlolere and Najia Karimi – alongside Heidi Lehmann (IRC), Sir John Holmes and Nick Dyer, Director General Policy and Programmed. The panelists shared their experiences and approaches responding to violence against women and girls in conflict; illustrating what it means to reach women and girls in conflict affected areas and provide holistic services to violence survivors.

Meeting with Foreign Affairs Select Committee at the British Parliament

Najia Karimi was one of the Afghan delegates who had the chance to meet with the British Foreign Affairs Select Committee and talk about the Afghan women condition and the activities of HAWCA.

Miss Selay Ghaffar, Executive Director of HAWCA, and a prominent committed Afghan woman rights activist once again became the voice of the most vulnerable afghan women and children on the occasion of 55th Session of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York this year.

CSW is the primary global policy-making body of the UN that is entirely devoted to examining the state of progress for women. Thirty-six years ago, the International Movement for Women’s Rights was launched with World Conference in Mexico City, followed by Nairobi, Copenhagen and Beijing to advocate for women’s rights and to access the progress. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1880, 1888 on women, peace and security and human rights are testimony to the impact of NGOs advocacy as well as to the effectiveness of the partnership of NGOs, governments and the UN.

This year’s them of “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work” highlighted the necessity for women to be actively engaged in the process. During the first week of the 55th session of the CSW, member states negotiated agreed conclusions to accelerate the implementation of existing commitments, including those listed by the Beijing Platform for Action.

During her mission in CSW she attended the following events which were an opportunity to influence government delegates to the Commission and lobbying with NGOs delegates:

•    Education for Women and Girls-the key to a brighter futures;
•    Integrating VAW in HIV Responses;
•    Implementing UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security: strengthening the CSW 55 Agenda;
•    Priorities for UN Women: country level work, presentation of global survey by Oxfam Novib;
•    Proposal for 5th UN NGO World Conference on Women;
•    Domestic Violence and the Criminal Justice System
•    Women’s Political Participation and Leadership: Challenging Fundamentalism;
•    Commercial Sexual Exploitation and the Girl Child: A Human Rights Approach;
•    GEAR UP: UN Women and Civil Society Moving Forward;
•    CEDAW After thirty years;
•    Women, Security and Just a Peace: Research and Action;
•    APWW;
•    Nepal 1325 NAP Launch
•    Formal Round Table in North Lawn Building: Panel 2: Key policy initiatives and capacity-building on gender mainstreaming: focus on education and training; Panel 3: Evaluation of progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions on “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”

Ms. Selay Ghaffar said: “The exciting part of my trip was that I became able to attend the meeting organized by UN NGO Committee with the new head of UN Women Ms Michelle Bachelet. The selected women from all regions attended and presented their regional concern to her. She responded to every single speech from the participants and was very well received. She said that UNW should focus on co-operation between the sexes, violence, women in peace and security, the economic empowerment of women, and that gender equity must be a national priority.”

Ms. Selay Ghaffar also attended the UN Women Launch on 24th Feb, 2011. The UN celebrated the historic launch of UN Women, with an evening including luminaries from the worlds of politics, entertainment, business, the media, music and film in the UN General Assembly Hall. It was opened up by the anchor from ABC News and then speeches from H.E. Mr. Joseph Desiss; H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon who said: “With the birth of UN Women, we welcome a powerful new agent for progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The challenges are great, but I believe that with the new energy, the new momentum and the new authority that UN Women brings, these challenges will be met. True gender equality should be our shared legacy in the 21st Century”. Then followed by speech of Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Under-Seretray-General and Executive Director of UN Women, who said: “Historically, we are at a point of great potential and change for women. Now we must seize that opportunity.”

The other speakers were Ms. Banana Rana; H.E. Ms. U. Joy Ogwu; H.R.H. Princess Cristina of Spain; Mr. Ted Turner; special message from Ms. Victoria Justice; Ms. Geena Davis, special message from Shakira; Ms. Nicole Kidman and Ms. Rakhi Sahi.

The launch was ended up by a song “One Woman”, lyrics by Beth Blatt, music by Graham Lyle and Clay which was composed for UN Women and performed by Graham Lyle, Clay, Beth Blatt, Gemma Bulos, Tituss Burgess, Tracy McDowell, Country Reed and United Nations International School Choir.

 

 

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.

Afghan Government Cracks Down on Women’s Shelters

The Italian women’s organization, CISDA – Coordinamento Italiano Sostegno Donne Afghane - denounces the draft regulation promoted by the Council of Ministers in January 2011, whose adoption allows the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) to take over the management of the existing shelters for women within 45 days, almost all of which are operated by Afghan non-governmental organizations.



The regulation comes after an early decision of the Afghan Supreme Court - the most obscurantist legislative body - according to which, seeking refuge in the shelters run by NGOs is considered a crime which abused women and girls can be prosecuted for. The Afghan Supreme Court had already limited women’s freedom of appeal to the juridical bodies.

Adoption of the regulation would result in the closure of some shelters and restrictions on women's freedom: under the proposal, women seeking shelter would have to face monthly forensic examinations to monitor their sexual activity, practice and study Islam, and they will have to be accompanied to the shelters by a mahram (the husband or a male relative). The government has justified its move to take over shelters partly on the grounds that the Women’s Affairs Ministry has the budget, the staff and the expertise to take on the running of the women’s centers and can therefore offer sustainable long-term funding.

However, we see the effort as yet another sign of a conservative resurgence in the country as discussions about peace deals with the Taliban grow louder. For years opponents of women’s rights in Afghanistan have accused the shelters of promoting prostitution and now the government has found the way to take the shelters under its control.

The regulation will have dramatic consequences for all women subjected to violence:

  • No male relative, even less a husband, will ever take an abused woman to a shelter; most of the time, the male relative is the one responsible for the violence women undergo and flee from.
  • In Afghanistan rape is considered a ‘moral crime’ and a reason for repudiation; hence, whereas the medical report gives record of sexual abuse, a woman seeking refuge in a government-run shelter would be denounced by the government itself rather than sheltered/protected.
  • Once admitted to the shelter, a woman escaping forced marriage will be denounced by the government itself because running away from the family is considered a crime.
  • Women and girls forcibly returned to their family or relatives have to face the community’s condemnation, sometimes resulting in public lapidation - as the recent month's cases showed.
  • If the family claims the woman back for any reason - even for a forced marriage - the shelter’s staff cannot refuse to release her. The vast majority of these abused women are charged with/accused of adultery by their community.
  • Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world: this regulation does not guarantee that the aid given by international organizations actually ends up in the hands of the women who have been victimized.

Karzai’s government - supported by US and NATO military occupation - has always been known for violating human rights:

  • In March 2009 the Karzai government signed a law aimed at weakening Shiah women: according to this law, women cannot refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands and cannot go to work, to the doctor or to school without his permission.
  • In March 2007, Karai’s government granted amnesty for all the crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan during the last twenty years.
  • In January 2007, the Primary Court in Balkh sentenced the Afghan journalist, Parwez Kambaskh, to death for blasphemy after his statements claiming men and women’s equality. Although Parwez has now been released, many are the journalists in Afghanistan whose freedom of expression is still extremely threatened.
  • In July 2006, Karzai reintroduced the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, sadly known under the Taliban regime.
  • Afghan NGOs fighting for human rights have denounced the constant pressure to legalize the informal justice system (tribal system) which allows for the lapidation of women.

And what’s the role of Italy? Between 2001 and 2011, the Italian government has invested hundreds of millions of euros in the reconstruction of the Afghan juridical system. We ask the Italian government and its political representatives, who have supported and are still funding the military intervention in Afghanistan, to show us how these monies have been allocated for the project of the reformation of the Afghan juridical system, since during the last years a growing number of laws against human rights and women’s freedom have been passed.

After the successful opening of "Legal Aid Center for Women Victims of Violence" in Herat City and Kabul City, HAWCA opened her third legal aid center in Jalalabad City to reach the women victims of violence in the east of Afghanistan. This project has been funded by Womankind Worldwide, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and Cordaid with the help of an Afghan organization, Fayaz Foundation, based in Netherlands, active in advocacy for human rights. This center works for the victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and harmful practices and will work in close collaboration with DoWA, Law and Political Sciences Faculty - Nangarhar University and Family Court in Jalalabad.

In this center, lawyers with the help of under-graduate law students/practicing lawyers provide legal advice and assistance and the psychologist provides psycho-social support and counseling for women and girls who are victims of domestic and sexual violence and harmful practices. This project also provides legal trainings to the recently graduated law students and other women and girls. The center also established a /literacy human rights course for a number of 40 women and men in order to increase their awareness on their basic and constitutional rights. The center is also training 30 school teachers on psychosocial. To achieve its aim the project will use the following strategies: i- Offer the provision of free legal aid, counseling and the accompaniment of women to court who suffer from VAW, psycho-social support, provisional of health care to critical cases, as well as raising awareness and training women on their human rights;  ii- Promote the culture of free legal aid amongst defense lawyers; iii- Increase the commitment of policy makers to strengthen the formal justice system, by implementing legal provisions.

HAWCA opened the legal aid center in the center of Jalalabad in April 2011. Selay Ghaffar, Executive Director, and a team of HAWCA traveled to the province to meet with different organizations and institutes and establish mechanism of partnerships and collaboration amongst the stage holders, and to open our third legal aid center and HAWCA’s regional office in the east of Afghanistan.

HAWCA team met with Mr. Fazil Hadi, Head of Public Court, and Mr. Tahir Rohani, Head of Family Court, who appreciated our step in Nangarhar Province and showed their support. The team also met with Dr. Mohammad Saber, Nangarhar University’s Chancellor, and Mr. Aman, Director of Law and Political Sciences Faculty. A protocol was signed for introduction of students to the center to do their internship, and further coordination with university during trainings and other events. HAWCA also had meetings with Mrs. Anisa, Head of Department of Women Affairs (DoWA) of Nangarhar; Dr. Rafi Ullah Bedar head of AIHRC; Dr. Sharaf Sharifi, Regional Manager of ACBAR; Ms. Minako Kakuma from UNHCR; Mr. Sultan Agha from Global Rights; Mr. Fazil Mahboob Fazili from ILF; Mr. Daniele Rumolo, Associate Human Rights Officer of UNAMA; Dr. Takele Lakew and Dr. Hazrat-ur-Rahman from IMC; Ms. Sharifa Shahil from UN Women Referral Center, Mr. Hayat Ullah Talibzada from WAW; Mr. Gharmal from AWN, Ms. Angeza Shinwari, Member of Provincial Council; and some other national and international civil society organizations.

HAWCA had the inauguration on May 17, 2011. Quests from the government, national and international organization including UN agencies and Chancellor of Jalalabad University attend the ceremony.

Selay Ghaffar welcomed every one and gave a brief history of HAWCA and the work that has been done for elimination of violence against women (EVAW) through HAWCA programs in Afghanistan.  She explained about the objectives and donors of the project and added: “HAWCA is opening her third legal aid center and regional office in Jalalabad to assist women and girls violence in the east of the country. We will endeavor to reach out even in the remotest villages of the area and save the precious lives.”  With very entoseyasim she told about her experience visiting the most remote districts in Jalalabad she said. “I was deeply inspired by the people in the districts especially Dara-e-Noor while I was talking with them about the VAW and women empowerment. I was very warmly welcomed by the elders and women of the community. When I saw that a woman has to travel long a way by foot to reach to health point from a mountain of Dara-e-Noor district it gives me the strength and courage to work more for them.”  The other speakers were Dr. Mohammad Saber University Chancellor, Dr. Rafi Ullah Bedar AIHRC director, Ms. Angeza Shinwari member of provincial council, a judge from family court, UN women,  WAW and Qanoon Ghoshtankai representatives. At the end the ribbon was cut by University Chancellor and AIHRC Director and some other guests. They also visited the different offices of the project and enjoyed the refreshments.

Click here to view pictures of the event.

  Storie dalla Casa per donne maltrattate di Kabul e Poesie di Nadia Anjuman
The book “Caged Bird: Stories from Safe House and Nadia Anjuman's Poems” was written in Dari and translated English, contains stories written by beneficiaries of safe house. Their name and other critical information has been changed to hide their identity because of their safety. Poems of Nadia Anjuman, Afghan female poet who died due to domestic violence, have been added in this book. Some pictures from safe house and drawings by beneficiaries of safe house asking for EVAW has been also included in this book. Ines Alberdi, Executive Director of UNIFEM, and Luisa Morgantini, Ex-Vice President of European Parliament, have sent their exclusive messages which has been published in the book. Introduction of the book has been written by Cristina Lamb - journalist, columnist and writer and currently chief editor of Sunday Times - who had personally met Nadia Anjuman in 2007.


Recently this book has been translated by one of HAWCA’s supporters, Laura Quagliuolo from CISDA, into Italian. In the addition to previous contents, the Italian version contains short information on two of HAWCA’s partners in Italy: ICS and CISDA; message of Maria Rita Rossa, Vice President of Alessandria Province; Chronology: the long Afghan war; and Afghanistan Today by Ivana Stefani, President of ICS. The printing of this book has been funded by Provincia di Alessandria.

Message of Selay Ghaffar, Executive Director of HAWCA, for the Italian version of the book:

Ringraziamenti di Selay Ghaffar, direttrice esecutiva di HAWCA
 
HAWCA ringrazia tutte le persone e le organizzazioni che hanno generosamente contribuito alla realizzazione di questo libro.

Un ringraziamento speciale va a Inés Albredi, direttrice esecutiva di UNIFEM, e a Luisa Morgantini, ex vicepresidente del Parlamento Europeo, per averci inviato i loro messaggi; a Christina Lamb, giornalista, editorialista e scrittrice, che ha incontrato personalmente Nadia Anjuman e ha scritto l’introduzione di questo libro. Ringraziamo anche Alex Strick van Linshoten e Felix Kuehn di Afghanwire, che con il loro straordinario lavoro ci hanno aiutati a tradurre in inglese le storie e le poesie, e Orzala Ashraf per aver trascritto e tradotto alcune storie. La nostra gratitudine va a Rita Rossa, vicepresidente della Provincia di Alessandria, e alla Provincia di Alessandria per aver fi nanziato l’edizione italiana di questo volume. HAWCA apprezza il loro costante impegno nei confronti della popolazione afghana. Un saluto affettuoso va alle nostre amiche del CISDA, le più attive e care sostenitrici della lotta delle donne afghane, per aver tradotto questo libro in italiano. Grazie anche a Nocem Collado per averci consentito di pubblicare le sue splendide fotografi e. Il vostro lavoro e il vostro aiuto contribuiscono a far conoscere al mondo la sofferenza delle donne afghane.

Un grazie speciale a Nadia Anjuman che con le sue stupende poesie si è battuta per l’uguaglianza delle donne nella società. Nadia avrà sempre un posto speciale nei nostri cuori; siamo fi eri di lei.

Nel 2009 HAWCA ha ricevuto il primo premio internazionale Emma Humphreys Memorial (EHMP). La signora Emma Humphreys fu una vittima di violenza, ma la sua lotta ha fatto di lei un’eroina. Non ha taciuto e si è battuta per i suoi diritti; questo ha portato a cambiare la legge nel suo paese, la Gran Bretagna. I ostri saluti e il nostro rispetto vanno a Emma Humphreys e a tutte le donne che nel mondo lottano per avere parità di diritti.

Siamo certi che non avremmo potuto raggiungere questo risultato senza il grande aiuto dei nostri donatori, partner e sostenitori. Vogliamo dedicare questo premio e questo libro a tutte le vittime di violenza in Afghanistan.

Da ultimo, HAWCA desidera ringraziare il personale della Casa per donne maltrattate per lo straordinario lavoro che sta portando avanti, e le ospiti della Casa per averci raccontato le loro storie e fatto capire che cosa signifi ca resistere all’oppressione.

In Kigali, she wakes up,
She makes a choice,
In Hanoi, Natal, Ramallah.

In Tangier, she takes a breath,
Lifts up her voice,
In Lahore, La Paz, Kampala.

Through she’s half a world away,
Something in me wants to say -

We are One Woman
You cry and I hear you.
We are one Woman
You hurt, and I hurt, too.
We are One Woman
Your hopes are mine
We shall shine.

In Juarez she speaks the truth,
She reaches out,
Then teaches other how to.

In Jaipur, she gives her name,
She lives without shame,
In Manila, Salta, Embu.

Though we’re different as can be,
We’re connected, she with me -

We are One Woman
Your courage keeps me strong.
We are One Woman
You sing, I sing along.
We are One Woman
Your dreams are mine
We shall shine
We shall shine -

And one man, he hears her voice.
And one man, he fights her fight.
Day by day, he lets go the old ways,

One woman at a time.
We are One Woman
Your victories lift us all.
We are One Woman
You rise and I stand tall.
We are One Woman
Our dreams are mine
We shall shine
Shine, shine, shine -

Official song of UN Women, “One Woman”, lyrics by Beth Blatt, music by Graham Lyle and Clay which was composed for UN Women and performed by Graham Lyle, Clay, Beth Blatt, Gemma Bulos, Tituss Burgess, Tracy McDowell, Country Reed and United Nations International School Choir.

 

This year Selay Ghaffar, Executive Director of HAWCA, was actively involved in national and international level to bring into the notice of the policy makers and government the importance of UNSCR 1325 as an obligation to implement it through a National Action Plan to ensure women condition are improving in the country.  As part of the commemoration of 1325 she also got the opportunity to go the Jakarta-Indonesia to attend the Asian Women Peacemakers conference on UNSCR 1325: "The Interfaith perspective in realizing the Role of Women Peacemakers in the Implementation of UNSCR 1325”. The two days conference was organized by MWPN, Komnas Perempuan, WPP-IFOR supported by ICCO, Cordaid and Oxfam Novib in collaboration with Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia.

The participants form 8 selected countries in Aisa namely; Afghanistan, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka and Diaspora organizations in Netherlands came together on 29-30th September, 2010 to address the following questions:

•    How far the resolution 1325 is being implemented in Asia and in Europe? How can we reach-out the mass majority to raise consciousness on the advantage of the resolution 1325?
•    What are the experiences in 8 participating countries in the implementation of the resolution 1325 in an interfaith context? What is the role of diaspora organizations in the implementation of 1325? What are the opportunities and challenges in the implementation both in Asia as well as in Europe?  How the partner organizations in the south can work together with the diaspora organizations towards the full implementation of resolution 1325? 

The conference mainly discussed the three Ps of the UNSCR 1325:
1. Protection: Violence Against Women/HR
2. Promotion: Capacity Building for Women at different Levels
3. Participation: Women’s participation and presentation in politics and public administration

The conference three panels which were: On 1325 and interfaith approach; VAW and Resolution 1820, political participation and empowering the women; and lessons and challenges in the field and the interfaith approach. The Executive Director of HAWCA addressed the audience in highlighting the most challenges faced by afghan women. She shared with the participants how difficult for an Afghan woman is to stand and asks for her basic right in the country? She showed high concern in regard to violence against women in education, health and employment spheres. Beside that security and weak government with presence of warlords were appointed as another challenge on the way to women empowerment and political participation. She emphasized that despite many efforts taken from the civil society, NGOs and INGOs yet there has been no strong mechanism to protect women in the country. Though HAWCA and some other NGOs are currently running safe houses around the country to protect the violence survivors and increase access of women to justice still it is like a drop in a river. During her speech she also highlighted that civil society and women activists with the support of international community became able to represent a very small percentage in London conference, National Consultative Counsel and Kabul Conference which is all part of the peace and reconciliation processes of Afghanistan. At the end she end up her speech by saying the without women participation peace is incomplete and peace without justice is doesn’t mean peace. 

At the end of the day she was questioned by many journalists in a press conference immediately followed after the panel: What steps HAWCA has take so far to improve the life condition of women and protect women from violence? What does peace mean for afghan women? Do you think women can be good peace makers? How you can say that religion is not rejecting 1325?

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