Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

16 Days of Activism Kickoff Event in Afghanistan

Date: Saturday, November 25, 2017

Author: Nangyalai Tanai

Leave No One Behind - End Violence against Women and Girls

Kabul, Afghanistan — Government, civil society activists and representatives from international community gathered at the Ministry of Women Affairs to celebrate the launch of International Day to end violence, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Afghanistan.
UN Women Afghanistan Country Office Representative with HE Chief Executive and the Minister of Women's Affairs to call for an end to violence against women in Afghanistan. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
HE Chief Executive delivers speech during 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive, National Unity Government said that "it is important to ensure an enabling environment for women to work in the security sector. We have to create the needed space and environment that can be trusted". Dr. Abdullah praised the efforts made to empower Afghan women since the fall of Taliban in 2001 but also acknowledged that the current string of violence against women and girls is not tolerable. According to him, "we have to take honest and concrete steps in strengthening law enforcement and watchdog agencies, strengthening of existent mechanisms and equal enforcement of laws to improve the quality of services to both men and women."

HE First Lady's video message is delivered during 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

Ending violence against women requires efforts in two fronts: equal enforcement of law and creating an enabling environment to become empowered. "providing employment opportunities for women and Including them in the economic initiatives of the government such as the Citizens Charter, help women to take prominent role in decision making" he said.

Sediqa Balkhi, Senator, delivers remarks during 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

Through a video message, H.E. Bibi Gul Ghani, Afghanistan's First Lady echoed that Afghan people suffer from variety of violence. She reminded the audience that a healthy society is comprised of men and women that enjoy both physical and mental well-being. She also called on all Afghans that violence, be in any form, will bring nothing but "hatred, anger and enmity". She continued, "violence against women is not just against women but also against everyone else in the family. Anger and hatred in a family is devastating the rest of the family". She also encouraged that "dialogue and discussion are healthy ways to engage with each other and that way we would have respected ourselves and the humanity."

Dr. Rebecca Tavares, Country Representative ad interim UN Women calls for collective action against gender-based violence during 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

Sediqa Balkhi, two terms Senator, appreciated government and international community for their support to empowerment of Afghan women. She said, "it is our collective responsibility to eliminate any form of violence against women."

"It is gratifying to see government officials, civil society, activists, men and women are gathered here to speak one word on the need to eliminate gender-based violence. Recognizing the unifying nature of one of the essential principles of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda and UNiTE Campaign to celebrate is the Orange Day, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence", said Rebecca Tavares, Country Representative ad interim for the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

Mufti Shamsurrahman Forotan calls on all Afghans to respect women with dignity. 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
From right to left: Dr. Rebecca Tavares, Country Representative ad interim UN Women, Dilbar Nazari, Minister of Women Affairs, Sediqa Balkhi, Upper House Senator, Spoghmai Wardak, Deputy Minister of Women Affairs. 16 Days of Activism Kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

Dr. Rebecca drew the attention of the audience to the different forms of the violence and said "Gender-based violence is not just the physical violence but it also can be sexual violence, emotional violence, or economic violence, and psychological violence."

Recognizing that violence against women is a global issue and it denies opportunity from women and girls across the world, Dr. Rebecca called on all Afghans to take active role in the international campaign. "We are all working towards the same aim- to end violence against women- starting today and especially during 16 Days of Activism."

Humaira Amin Nawabi is an activist, founder and leader of Qalam (Pen) Association. She believes that educating women and girls is a tool for women empowerment. In the picture, she is holding a pen made out of paper. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign spanning from 25 November through 10 December, is taking place this year against the backdrop of an unprecedented global outcry. At the heart of this year's theme, "Leave No One Behind - End Violence against Women", for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and UNiTE Campaign's observance of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women (25 November - 10 December), is the imperative to support those who are particularly vulnerable. The UNiTE Campaign is calling on everyone to join the movement to end violence against women, using the colour orange to make your action visible.

Government, civil society, activists, men and women gathered to say no to violence through the kickoff event for 16 Days of Activism to end gender-based violence against women. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

Humaira Amin Nawabi is an activist, founder and leader of "Qalam" (which means pen) Association. Mrs. Humaira advocates for education as a tool to end gender-based violence. She has made a huge collection of pens out of paper, and gives them to government officials to provide education opportunities for women and girls. "educating women and girls means empowering them. I want to mobilize communities to educate their girls and women. I also want to travel across Afghanistan to pass the message that 'Afghanistan can be built with education, not war'", said Humaira.

 

"When half of the society is comprised of women, only men are not enough to defend our homeland". Genderal Khatool, Afghanistan's first ever female paratrooper.

Right to left: General Khatool Mohammadzai, first Afghanistan's first ever female paratrooper, Rebecca Tavares, Country Representative ad interim UN Women. 16 Days of Activism Kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
General Khatool Mohammadzai, first Afghanistan's first ever female paratrooper. 16 Days of Activism Kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
 

Humaira gives the paper pens to senior government officials and take their promise for women and girls empowerment.

Mrs. Zulqya Zarifi, Camerawoman with Bano TV. 16 Days of Activism Kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
Mrs. Nilab Azarm is an intern with Kilid Radio. 16 Days of Activism Kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
 
Media coverage of the 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs conference hall. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

"Getting education and doing what you want is what make a woman empowered and strong" Mrs. Zulqya Zarifi, Camerawoman at Bano TV.

As an intern, Nilab Azarm, attended the 16 Days of Activism kickoff event at the Ministry of Women Affairs to bridge the gap between going to school and landing great job. "I want to be a voice for women and girls" says Nilab Azarm.