Empowering Women Advocates in Afghanistan

Publication Date: 
7 Mar 2012

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In Afghanistan, as in all other countries, gender equality is a prerequisite for a well-developed society that assures the realization of economic, social and cultural, as well as civil and political rights to all of its citizens – men and women.

To this end, IFES has produced a handbook to serve as a tool for advocates of women’s rights and gender equality in Afghanistan, as well as Women of Influence.  Women of Influence are those who pursue information about candidates’ policies and programs, engage candidates on topics of importance to women, and follow up with elected officials to see if they have delivered on their promises.

The handbook focuses on four topics:

1) Mitigating the gender double standard
2) Reducing harmful marriage-related traditions
3) Eliminating violence against women
4) Increasing access to education

The handbook, a culmination of three years’ work in the field and tailored to the needs of advocates, provides a presentation of each topic from the perspectives of Islamic law (Sharia), Afghan statutory law and international law.

Recommendations are also included for actions to be taken by the Afghan government, civil society organizations and religious leaders in order to improve the lives of women in Afghanistan.

In addition, tips on how to advocate effectively are provided, as well as a list of civil society and government entities working on these issues in Kabul, Balkh, Bamiyan, Herat, Kandahar and Nangarhar.

It is hoped that, armed with this handbook, advocates will be able to generate and join a more effective and forceful dialogue on women’s rights and gender equality in Afghanistan. In addition, advocates will be able to expand and strengthen their networks, thereby making their participation in building Afghan civil society that much more effective.