#MyRedLine2 brings women’s rights campaign to farthest reaches of Afghanistan

Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Author: Nangyalai Tanai

Women’s rights defenders gather in front of Gawharshad Begum’s tomb in Herat to start the new #MyRedLine campaign to amplify the voices of women in peacebuilding. Photo: UN Women/Sushant Kumar
Women’s rights defenders gather in front of Gawharshad Begum’s tomb in Herat to start the new #MyRedLine campaign to amplify the voices of women in peacebuilding. Photo: UN Women/Sushant Kumar

Herat, Afghanistan — Nearly 100 human rights activists from 10 provinces of Afghanistan gathered today by the tomb of Gawharshad Begum to launch #MyRedLine2, the second phase of a social media campaign to ensure women’s rights are protected in any future peace settlement.

The gathering took place in the garden of the tomb in Herat, in the country’s west. Gawharshad Begum (1378-1457) is remembered as a great Afghan woman who, with her husband the emperor of the Timurid Empire, led her people in a cultural renaissance.

Supported by UN Women, #MyRedLine2 will collect and share testimonies by Afghans on the human rights and women’s rights that they are not willing to give up or negotiate, such as the rights to work, to go to school, to marry whom they choose.

UN Women’s Representative in Afghanistan, Aleta Miller, said the campaign will amplify the voices of women and men who are less connected with the country’s decision-making centres, “but whose voices, opinions, ideas, struggles, desires and needs are vitally important for an equal future for every woman and man, girl and boy across Afghanistan”.

Afghan women must galvanize their efforts, said Mary Akrami, Director of Afghan Women’s Network. “It is now or never,“ she said. “Afghan women want peace with dignity. They do not want to be denied of their rights or robbed of their opportunities.”

Soraya Pakzad, a provincial campaign ambassador and Director of Voice of Women’s Organization, said she hoped that men and boys across Afghanistan will join women’s push for an inclusive peace. “More men are needed to stand up for building a peaceful future in which all of us can benefit equally,” she said.

Ten provincial campaign ambassadors -- all leaders in their communities and women’s rights activists -- will bring the campaign to the farthest parts of Afghanistan.

Participants at the #MyRedLine2 launch in front of Gawharshad Begum’s tomb in Herat release balloons tagged with red ribbons, to tell the world about their red lines on women’s rights. Photo: UN Women/Sushant Kumar
Participants at the #MyRedLine2 launch in front of Gawharshad Begum’s tomb in Herat release balloons tagged with red ribbons, to tell the world about their red lines on women’s rights. Photo: UN Women/Sushant Kumar

“Red Lines” for peace was first coined in Afghanistan by a group of prominent women's right activists in 2010. Together with activists and founders of the campaign, UN Women ran #MyRedLine from March to April 2019, engaging over 100,000 people online and making the campaign synonymous with the country’s women’s rights movement. That campaign focused mostly on Kabul. #MyRedLine2 will take the campaign to people across the country who live outside the major cities and are less connected to the national capital.