Afghanistan and Germany celebrate International Women’s Day

Germany’s programme for Promotion of the rule of law and the Departments of Women Affairs (DoWA) in the six northern Afghan provinces Badakhshan, Balkh, Baghlan, Kunduz, Samangan and Takhar held a variety of events to celebrate International Women’s Day.
In Faizabad, Badakhshan, the new women’s garden and marketplace, built with German funding, played host to a wide range of activities for about 700 women. The motto of the day was "To put Beijing into practice, let us struggle in providing women with justice, opportunities, comfort and peace." The women who come to the garden and market, both as sellers and consumers, act as multipliers in their own districts and villages.

In Taloqan, Takhar, around 350 participants discussed questions of political participation. The motto of the day there was: "Fellow Compatriot: Participation of men and women in the social, political, economic discourse is contingent on social progress."

In Balkh, the program presented a series of video interviews by men and women who fight for women’s rights to an audience of international partners.

At the events in Badakhshan, Mrs. Zufnun Hesam Nateq, Director of the DoWA there, said, “Obtaining religious and human rights of women still remains a challenge in Afghanistan but is not impossible. We need time and patience to reach our goals.” Due to long years of conflict, the essential law and law enforcement institutions still need support to help enforce legal certainty for all citizens. However, women are still particularly affected by the lack of rule of law in society.

As Mrs. Zufnun Hesam Nateq added, “A unique achievement of Afghan women in the new era is that we now have a law to eliminate violence against women, which has been applicable for quite some time. Violence against women will only be eradicated if we play an effective role in running management and leadership positions. Women’s rights have never been achieved easily in developed countries either. Women had to sacrifice a lot and stepped firmly to overcome the challenges.”

The German supported program for Promotion of the rule of law runs various activities to ensure that the interests of women are respected in dialogue between civil society and government institutions. The measures are designed explicitly to encourage women to participate in political processes. So far, the program has helped teaching women about their rights through radio broadcasts, legal awareness campaigns in schools in the six provinces and through a theatre play with performances in Mazar-e Sharif and other districts in Balkh.

The programme regularly conducts training on women's rights and inheritance and family law for employees of the Department of Women Affairs and of the Departments of Justice. Female and male police officers receive refresher courses on violence against women cases, and a telephone hotline has been set up in Mazar-e Sharif to report cases of gender-based violence.

Finally, with its support for the Afghan Independent Bar Association, the programme has also helped the cause of female lawyers in Kunduz, and prospective women barristers can take part in courses in Takhar and Kunduz, while Balkh University now has a legal library for female law and sharia students. For the coming two years and with co-funding and support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the rule of law programme will spend around AFN 92 million as part of an overall concept for improving justice for women.

Since 2002, the German government has been supporting the Ministry of Justice of Afghanistan in its efforts to ensure access to justice for all citizens. In 2007, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Development (BMZ), the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH started working together with the Afghan Government to promote the rule of law in Afghanistan.