In April 2015, Amnesty International Australia wrapped up its two-year campaign to stand with the women and girls of Afghanistan.
We’d like to say a huge thanks to Amnesty supporter groups for being a critical part of our campaign for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Together, we made sure the safety and advancement of women was high on the list of priorities of the new Afghan Government and of the Australian Government’s foreign policy.
A chapter closes
Our campaign culminated in the head of Amnesty’s global movement, Salil Shetty, and our Afghanistan researcher, Horia Mosadiq, personally handing over your calls for equal rights and protections for Afghan women.
Salil and Horia presented the 102,497 signatures from the Australian public to First Lady Rula Ghani. After stating that she would be displaying the signatures in her office “where everyone can see them”, First Lady Ghani reaffirmed her commitment to ending violence against women and asked that we give you this message:
“We are doing everything to support Afghan women and women human rights defenders and we are fighting for the same cause as you, though it may be different fronts and through different means.”
Earlier that day at an Amnesty-supported conference in Kabul for human rights activists in Afghanistan, the Afghan Chief Executive and Vice President both made specific commitments to women’s rights in front of a swathe of TV cameras.
Afterwards we wrote to Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to inform her of Amnesty’s meetings in Afghanistan. We urged Australia to encourage the Afghan government to protect women’s human rights.
We are part of global movement
As well as the amazing work Amnesty International Australia led on, our global movement achieved some fantastic progress in partnership with brave women’s rights advocates and organisations in Afghanistan. Most recently, in April 2015:
- Our Secretary General Salil Shetty met with women human rights defenders, who shared their concerns regarding the security threats from armed insurgent groups, and the discrimination they face from their government.
- Salil Shetty launched our report on women human rights defenders in Afghanistan. It received overwhelming coverage in Afghan national media and strong coverage internationally. Afghan women’s rights advocates themselves said that our report had “re-energised and emboldened them.”
- Amnesty co-organised a human rights conference in Kabul. The conference was a real success with excellent participation from the human rights community, members of the parliament, government ministers and ambassadors.
- Our Secretary General and delegates met with the President, Chief Executive, and First Lady. The Afghan President and First Lady both asked Amnesty to work with the government on including human rights education into school curriculum. The President acknowledged the failure of police and judiciary in addressing violence against women and said that he is determined to reform the judiciary and police.
While Australia’s Afghan women’s rights campaign has officially wrapped up, where opportunities arise we will continue raising our calls for gender equality in Afghanistan to the Australian Government. Our global movement will continue to pursue gender equality in Afghanistan. Amnesty has worked to improve human rights in Afghanistan for several decades and we are committed to helping all Afghan people access equal rights, freedoms and protections.