BAMYAN: Series of UN-backed events highlight women’s issues

15 Sep 2013

BAMYAN: Series of UN-backed events highlight women’s issues

BAMYAN - Afghanistan’s central Bamyan province hosted a series of events over the past weeks – three of them supported by the United Nations – to highlight the issues of women’s participation in political processes and curbing gender-based violence ahead of next year’s Presidential and Provincial Council elections.

In their comments at a conference supported by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in late August, civil society participants highlighted the low turnout of women during the ongoing voter registration exercise. They also expressed concerns that difficult terrain in the country’s central highlands may prevent many women from voting.

As a solution, Bamyan Deputy Governor, Mohammad Asif Mubaligh, called for deployment of mobile election registration centres in far-flung districts and villages to increase women participation in the elections by enabling them to register and vote near their homes.

Women empowerment discussions will continue in the next two weeks as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) plans to organize events to draw attention to women’s rights and to present ways to get women’s voices heard, including during the coming elections.

A UNAMA workshop on women, peace and security in late August, discussed the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and linked them to UNAMA’s work “to build a constructive dialogue and advocacy on women’s participation in peace and security using these Resolutions.”

The workshop also discussed how the UN and organizations working on women, peace and security can enhance their collaboration to increase women’s participation in peace and security in Afghanistan.

Civil society participants took the opportunity during the UNAMA workshop to call on the international community to ensure free and fair elections on the ground.

Fighting gender-based violence was the subject of a UNAMA-supported essay writing competition among school and college students on the occasion of International Literacy Day (8 September) and a signature campaign spearheaded by a non-governmental organization promoting democracy, the National Endowment for Democracy.

Co-organized by four groups led by UNAMA, the essay writing competition had 35 participants, most of whom identified – through their writings – harmful traditional practices, the culture of impunity, and the preference of boys over girls as the main causes of violence against women in the province.

A Grade Eight student at the Bamyan Centre Boys High School, Mahdy Shayagan, who won the first place in the junior division, wrote in his essay how a woman in his own family suffered after losing baby while delivering in the traditional way.

The winner in the Senior Division, Fariba Muradi, who is a Bamyan University student, wrote about increasing incidents of violence against women, quoting statistics from various sources, and comparing the numbers with the situation of women worldwide. Ms. Muradi highlighted that “women make up half of a community, and if half of the community is paralyzed, the community will not develop.”