Report by: Abdul Ali Faiq
Roundtable on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan– London
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, the Thomson Foundation and the Bar Human Rights Committee organized a useful program in the name of “Roundtable on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan” on Friday 30 March 2007, which opened by the Excellency Cherie Blair QC -Mr. Tony Blair’s wife. The participants were from United Kingdom government officials, NGOs, and representatives from the UK’s Afghan and Muslim communities.
The program was stared officially by Cherie Blair QC .She talked comprehensively about Women Rights in Afghanistan, and said: she visited Afghanistan twice, and saw a lot of changes. She also added “We are not happy the women being treated as a second citizen (class) in Afghanistan” She also pointed out that “there are many men, who are not recognizing women as an existence and proper human beings. She said “in Taliban period the women were completely excluded from the society.
The next speaker was Jane Marriotte, Deputy Head, Afghanistan Group; FCO.She also addressed the problems which Afghanistanis women are facing now. She invited Ghargashta Katawazi Suleimankhel; Member of the Assembly of Afghanistan.Ghargashta Katawazi mentioned that “I can say nothing is perfect or going well in Afghanistan. I also can say I don’t want to disappoint anyone here; we have some visible achievements in the past five years. For example, having parlement, having assembly and participation of women and other things. It is a good achievement.
Another speaker was Samantha Knights, Matrix Chambers, Member of the Bar Human Rights Committee addressed the problem of women in Afghanistan and she invited Professor Maleiha Malik, a professor in Faculty of Law King’s College London.Mrs Maleiha academically explained the codification of Sheriya, gender equality, and feminist from Islamic point of view, and other important issue regarding the women rights in Islam.
The next speaker was Roya Rawosh is a member of the Afghanistan Independent, Human Rights Commission’s Monitoring and Investigation of Human Rights Violation Unit. She said: “Islam gave women a great deal of honer, rights, prestige and equality. This is the fault of our society, culture and uneducated people who mixed tradition with religion”.
The next speaker was Charlotte Seymour-Smith, Director for Asia, Department for International Development. She was talking about the developing of economy and problem of Afghanistan economy .She also said: the big challenges in Afghanistan are security, economy and education. She invited Professor Raihana Popalzia, University of Kabul, and Faculty of Natural Sciences. She mostly talked about the challenges which the university being faced. She said: we have very low educational and academicals figures inside the university. She said: the female bachelor is 9%, the BM (Bachelor of Medicine) is 3% and Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) is 0%.It is absolutely disaster compare to the other countries!
Rana Aand, a journalist has been working since 2005 till now as a reporter for the BBC World Pashto Service Afghan Women’s hour program. She was saying women life has been improved gradually but it is not enough indeed. She said we must educate our men rather than women. She also added: the vast majority of the people are living in poverty and harsh situation!
The other speaker was Raza Gul, Helmand Provincial Councilor. She was elected as a Helmand provincial councilor Afghanistan’s first Parliamentary and Provincial elections in 36 years. She was shadowing the problem and challenge which her province (Helmand) is being faced. She said: we are building educational institution and Taliban are destroying them. She also mentioned from 40 districts the government controlling only 4 districts the other 36 districts are being controlled by the Taliban forces.
Some useful questions, remarks, comments and points were raised by the participants. The program finished at 5:00 pm.