Improved protection, empowerment of Kunduz women aim of UN-backed TV event

5 Jul 2016

Improved protection, empowerment of Kunduz women aim of UN-backed TV event

KUNDUZ - The greater protection and empowerment of Afghan women was the topic of a televised panel discussion that reached an estimated quarter of a million people in north-eastern Kunduz province.

With a lively panel consisting of a religious scholar, a women’s rights activist and two civil society representatives, the discussion covered a range of rights issues and was broadcast on local Khawar TV, Radio Khawar and Radio Shabnam.

The roundtable was set up to raise awareness about the protection of women’s rights, to encourage communities to do their part in advancing the rights of women and to urge women and girls to participate more in the country’s social and political processes.

Panelist and women’s activist Gita Bashardood highlighted women’s achievements and progress in Kunduz during the past 15 years. The fall of Kunduz city to insurgents last year, however, along with ongoing conflict and insecurity, has left Kunduz women facing new challenges.

Following the Taliban’s entry into Kunduz city in late September 2015, many civilians including women and children were killed or wounded, while thousands of people fled the city. Media outlets – many of which had women staff – were looted and burned. While the city quickly returned to government control, insecurity in the province continues.

More generally in Afghanistan, women remain the most vulnerable segment of Afghan society. They are subject to harmful traditional practices such as underage marriage, forced marriage and honour killings.

Panelist and religious scholar Sakhidad Khalili spoke about the dignity of women as human beings, and explained the role of religious leaders in fighting violence against women.

“One task of religious scholars is to deliver Islamic values, principles and messages to the people,” said Mr. Khalili. “One of these values is a culture of non-violence, particularly non-violence against women.”

UNAMA’s latest report on the implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law found that Afghan authorities registered more cases of violence against women but prosecutions and convictions under the law remained low, with most cases settled by mediation.

Enacted in 2009 through a Presidential decree, the EVAW law criminalizes acts of violence against women and harmful practices including child marriage, forced marriage, forced self-immolation, baad (giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute) and 18 other acts of violence against women including rape and beating. It also specifies punishment for perpetrators.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides good offices; promotes coherent development support by the international community; supports 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.