Herat initiative to advocate for women’s rights

24 Jan 2016

Herat initiative to advocate for women’s rights

HERAT - Raising awareness about women’s rights and eliminating violence against women is the focus of a joint UN-Afghanistan outreach initiative which will run during 2016 in the western province of Herat.  

A number of UN agencies in Herat, including UNAMA, are working with the local Department of Women’s Affairs (DoWA) to reach out to tens of thousands of vulnerable women in the province throughout 2016. The programme also aims to encourage positive social changes in the behavior of communities towards women.

The initiative kicked off with a meeting in Herat where DoWA shared its annual outreach plan on women’s empowerment with UN agencies. The activities in the plan that the UN will support include awareness raising campaigns and the establishment of legal aid and vocational training centres. A further meeting, scheduled for February, will firm up specific activities to be undertaken. 

Mahbobe Jamshidi, Head of DoWA in Herat, who described the meeting with UN agencies as “fruitful”, said that Department staff would travel to at least eight districts to carry out outreach activities in person. For remaining districts of the province, where the level of insecurity is greater, advocacy will be done through local people and via the media.

Sayed Saddat, a UNAMA Civil Affairs Officer, said that the initiative aims to reach a wide cross-section of society including women’s rights activists, community leaders, youth, religious scholars and government officials.

UNAMA took a leading role in the initiative, including supporting DoWA in the drafting of its 2016 outreach plan and translation into English. UNAMA also played a coordination role in the involvement of UN agencies and in encouraging support for the initiative.    

The United Nations is committed to supporting the Government of Afghanistan to ensure a life free of violence for women and girls, and their equal participation in public life. This is achieved, in part, through the engagement of UNAMA staff with national and provincial government, along with diverse civil society groups including women’s networks.