Speaking up to end violence against women in eastern provinces

9 Jan 2018

Speaking up to end violence against women in eastern provinces

JALALABAD – More institutions, individuals and community leaders in the eastern provinces are stepping up to speak and act for women’s rights and to end violence against women.

In 2017, the Jalalabad regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) organized a series of public events, along with radio and television programmes to raise awareness on initiatives aimed at eliminating all types of violence against women in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman and Nuristan.

Representatives from civil society, local government, religious institutions and the law enforcement as well as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, discussed the state of violence against women and new approaches to addressing what many have characterized as an endemic problem in the region.

“We need everyone on board. Only the combined efforts from all parts of the society can bring results” says Nasratullah Akhunzada, a religious scholar who has been involved in advocacy to end violence against women in the eastern region. Akhunzada believes that public discussions on violence against women, particularly radio and television programmes have played an important role in raising awareness and bringing about some positive changes such as the reduction in the number of forced marriages. According to him, access to education is key to dealing with other forms of violence against women. “Education is a way to empower women and the long-term solution to eliminating violence against women. In the last 16 years, thanks to the efforts of Afghan government and international community, we made progress in improving quality and access for girls education, but challenges still remain and all of us need to continue the work” he said.

Like in many parts of Afghanistan, women in the eastern region, face different forms of violence - violent extremism, poverty, illiteracy and inequality. There is a growing recognition by the government and international community that efforts to eliminate violence against women must involve not only government, but every individual, by acting and speaking out against violence in homes, workplaces and social settings.

Media partners, Sharq TV and Safa Radio in Jalalabad produced a series of radio and television programs throughout 2017, playing an important role in shaping public discourse and raising awareness on a number of issues aimed at improving the welfare of women such as elimination of violence, access to education and participation in political and economic activities.

“As I had pledged in October 2017 during a discussion at Safa Radio in Jalalabad, I’ve continued to explain in my sermons that exchange and forced marriages are strictly prohibited in Islam” Qari Abdul Malik Mazloomyar, a religious scholar, told UNAMA and reiterated the need for more programmes on the subject to engage and educate the public.

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.