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Posts tagged ‘Afghan women’

Kites for Afghan Women

Dear Gabriel,

Last month, you and 18,000 other activists took action in support of Afghan women in advance of our “Shadow Summit” for Afghan Women’s Rights. You submitted messages of solidarity and support, and your words of encouragement soared far into the sky on the first day of the NATO summit in Chicago to let the world’s leaders know that we care about women’s rights.

They listened.

The Shadow Summit for Afghan Women’s Rights was a true testament to what AIUSA is capable of achieving when we all work together. At the very last minute, the government of Afghanistan invited three women to join the Afghan delegation at the NATO summit.

Amnesty International’s Shadow Summit speakers included prominent Afghan women’s rights leaders Afifa Azim, Manizha Naderi, Hasina Safi and Mahbouba Seraj, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of the best-seller “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana”, and Jerome McDonnell, host of Chicago Public Radio’s program “Worldview”, moderated the panel discussions. You can listen online to the first panel.

After the program, Shadow Summit participants headed out to Chicago’s Navy Pier with your messages and flew the kites in solidarity with Afghan women. To see pictures from the event, check out our album.

After the kite action, Mahbouba, Afifa and Hasina expressed their gratitude for Amnesty’s support in creating such a crucial opportunity to have their voices heard, and their hopes that we will all continue to work together to demand Afghan women’s political participation and representation as the transition unfolds – and beyond.

Afifa Azim, director and co-founder, Afghan Women’s Network, said:

“We want the world to know that the women of Afghanistan are not victims. They are active members of society and agents of change who worked very hard, even when it was underground, to make sure children were being educated and progress was being made. We cannot go back to the darkness and we expect to be heard as the new policies are being made. We are asking the U.S. and the international community to support us.”

We won’t give up on the fight for women’s human rights around the world. With your continued support, we know it is possible to achieve.

Thank you for taking action. Together we’re making a difference and we look forward to the next steps.

Cristina M. Finch
Policy and Advocacy Director, Women’s Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

Fly Kites for Afghan Women

Dear Gabriel,

Want to do something symbolic and meaningful for women’s rights on Mother’s Day?

Help us fly kites for women’s rights.

This Mother’s Day, Amnesty is inviting you to write a message of solidarity for Afghan women. We’ll put it on a kite — kite flying is a popular pastime in Afghanistan — and fly it during the NATO Summit in Chicago, May 20-21, where President Obama and Afghan President Karzai will be discussing Afghanistan’s transition.

Send your message of solidarity sky high. Write a note supporting Afghan women’s rights by Mother’s Day, May 13.

Why kites? Because while women and girls in Afghanistan make kites, they are not free to fly them because it’s considered socially unacceptable. Kites can therefore be a powerful symbol of discrimination against women and their exclusion from politics in Afghanistan.

Although the NATO Summit will discuss Afghanistan’s future, Afghan women won’t even be at the table! Unacceptable! That’s why Amnesty is holding a NATO Shadow Summit to bring this critical subject in front of NATO. After our event, we’ll fly your kites in front of the NATO Summit to make sure that these world leaders see our message: Don’t abandon Afghan women!

Despite modest gains over recent years, women and girls still face widespread human rights abuses including exclusion from political life, gender-based violence and discrimination. For example, President Karzai has publically endorsed a “code of conduct” allowing husbands to beat their wives.

Is this progress? We think not. There is real danger that women’s rights will get thrown under the bus as the U.S. searches for a quick exit from Afghanistan.

Women and girls in Afghanistan cannot afford to wait. Masiha Faiz, a defense attorney for Medica Mondiale, a women’s rights NGO, said that she’s been attacked for defending women accused of “moral crimes,” like fleeing abuse. The government does little to support human rights defenders like Masiha.

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton told women Afghan officials, “We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always.”

Yes, we will stand with Afghan women, always. This is a defining moment for the U.S. government to show that it will not abandon women. There is no peace without women’s and girls’ human rights.

Write your message of solidarity supporting Afghan women’s rights today — for Mother’s Day, for all days.

In solidarity,

Cristina M. Finch
Policy and Advocacy Director, Women’s Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

Afghanistan & Women’s Rights

Dear Gabriel,

Shocking brutality, discrimination, denial of education. Just a few of the human rights abuses Afghan women face.

Dozens of girls daring to seek an education were sickened when gas filled their school — allegedly caused by a Taliban attack. An 18-year-old bride had her nose and ears cut off as punishment for running away from her abusive in-laws. The Taliban shot a pregnant woman dead for alleged adultery after forcing her to abort her fetus.

The U.S. is going to withdraw from Afghanistan. But the the risks that Afghan women face daily — and hard work it will take to ensure their human rights — remain.

We need a plan.

Today, International Women’s Day, let’s make sure the women of Afghanistan are not left behind.

Tell the U.S. government that women’s human rights are non-negotiable, and Afghanistan should not be an exception. The U.S. should adopt an Action Plan for Afghan women before leaving the country in the hands of the Afghan government and the Taliban.

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a promise to Afghan women: “We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always.” Protecting human rights in Afghanistan — including the rights of women — was one of the reasons the U.S. and NATO cited for invading Afghanistan back in 2001.

But now this pledge to the Afghan people is in danger of being broken, and the very justification for being in Afghanistan in the first place — defending human rights — is in danger of being completely abandoned. All because of political expediency.

A U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is imminent. But the U.S. shouldn’t abandon Afghanistan’s women.

Peace talks are underway between the U.S., the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai, and the Taliban. As these sides negotiate the future of Afghanistan, women must be included and their rights must be protected.

Women’s participation will build a better peace in Afghanistan. But will women even be equally represented at the talks that will determine their fate? So far the answer is an unacceptable “No.” We know all too well what happens when women aren’t at the table — their voices are silenced and their needs are left out.

Amnesty has a plan to promote women’s rights in Afghanistan and to make sure Afghan women are able to shape their own destiny — but we need you to take action to make it a reality.

Demand that the U.S. keep its promise to Afghanistan’s women. It can leave Afghanistan, but not its commitment to women’s human rights.

Sincerely,

Cristina Finch
Policy and Advocacy Director, Women’s Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

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