Afghan social media activists pledge to fight gender-based violence

15 Jan 2017

Afghan social media activists pledge to fight gender-based violence

BAMYAN - At a UN-backed event in the central province of Bamyan, leading Afghan social media activists affirmed their commitment to highlight the critical importance of ending violence against women.

More than 30 social media professionals representing civil society organizations, women’s rights groups and local media outlets gathered at the event, organized by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), to coordinate their social media activism.

In the central highland region of Afghanistan, as in other areas of the country, Afghan women and girls continue to face many challenges, including domestic violence and early marriage.

Ibrahim Tawala, Manager of Sadai Shaharwandi Bamyan weekly, said social media in Afghanistan is a strong tool for raising awareness and driving advocacy initiatives.

“As social media activists, we have successfully mobilized people around pressing social and political issues in Bamyan,” he said. “Violence against women is the most pressing issue in today’s Afghanistan, and it’s our responsibility to educate local communities to respect the rights of their family members, including the rights of their women and children.”

Violence against women, particularly domestic violence, remains prevalent in Bamyan according to findings from Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission.

“Domestic violence is the major type of violence against women, and it increasingly demands that we draw attention to the rights of women as citizens and as human beings,” said Abdul Rauf Shayan, an official from AIHRC.

Ms. Aileen Villareal, head of UNAMA field office in Bamyan, addressed the at the event. “Your potential to create social change is boundless,” she said. “Today’s media technology gives the future daughters of Bamyan a shot at life free of violence. It’s at your fingertips.”

The participants signed a resolution and agreed to establish new social media pages and form a team of social media experts to meet regularly to plan campaigns.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.