As the U.S.-led war on terrorism ensues, Afghan and U.S. women continue to urge for the restoration of Afghan women’s rights in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Highlighted in the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women, drafted at the “Conference for Women of Afghanistan” in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, those rights include the right to personal safety, the right to physical and mental health, the right to institutional education, and the right to equal protection under the law. Barbara Beck, a U.S. feminist and Conference attendee who has just returned from Northern Alliance-controlled Afghanistan, said that “the idea was that whenever the Taliban could be dislodged, there would be a constitution and in it we would be pressing for these rights. We never thought last summer it would come so soon.”
The Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women was derived from the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Afghan Constitutions of 1964 and 1977. The Declaration specifically recognizes that “the torture and inhumane and degrading treatment imposed by the Taliban on women, as active members of society, have put Afghan society in danger.” The Association to Support the Women of Afghanistan (NEGAR), a Paris-based Afghan organization, sponsored the June 2000 Conference attended by both Afghan women – including women from inside of Afghanistan, Afghan women living in the U.S. and Europe, and more than 250 Afghan women refugees from Tajikistan and Iran – and non-Afghans from five continents.
The Feminist Majority has supported the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women and has launched a massive campaign aimed at increasing humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, the restoration of Afghan women’s rights, and the establishment of a constitutional democracy in Afghanistan. To find out how you can help, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: Washington Post, 10/10/01; Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women; Feminist Majority