May Peace be With Her: Finding peace in Afghanistan

October 12, 2017

Afghanistan is a country marked by several decades of armed conflicts. In forty years, it has been the theatre of two devastating wars: the Soviet-Afghan War (from 1979 to 1989) and the War in Afghanistan (ongoing since 2001).

In this difficult context, women face many obstacles, including traditional practices that violate their fundamental rights. Afghanistan is among the countries in the world where equality between women and men is at its lowest, and Afghan women face extreme discrimination and exclusion, which severely limits their access to financial resources, jobs, education and health services.

Despite advancements such as the adoption of the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (known as the EVAW law) in 2009 by the Afghan government, resistance remains. Full implementation of the EVAW law has been delayed as members of the Afghan Parliament continue to oppose it and demand that the law be amended.

Our partner, the Noor Educational & Capacity Development Organization (NECDO), understands that equality between men and women is a key component for peace and development, and sees the implementation of the EVAW law as an important step.  For 15 years, NECDO has been working on the empowerment of women and the elimination of violence directed against women and girls, and from this experience has concluded that men and young people must be mobilized for this to happen.

In January 2016, NECDO set up a project called “Mobilizing Afghan Men to Protect Women’s Rights, Democracy and Peace.” The main objective of this project is to improve the resilience of local communities, strengthen their cohesion and build their capacity to facilitate a peaceful transition, primarily by organizing activities to promote women's rights. As part of this project, two-day training sessions are offered to imams, community leaders and women activists. The subjects they discuss include violence against women, the EVAW law, women's rights in Islam, gender, and peace.

“During my training sessions,” says Jamila Safi, the lead trainer for the project, “I have often seen men arrive and argue against women's rights. When they admit, at the end of the day, that violence against women must be eliminated, this is, in my opinion, a major change.”

Explaining the effectiveness of the training, a participant said that it has the potential to “pave the way towards peace and democracy, while changing people’s perspectives.”

Together for peace, one training session at a time!

In 2016, NECDO offered 52 training sessions which reached 1,223 people, including 594 women.

Learn more about Jamila and her work here!