Many people as but what can I do to help? This is a difficult question to answer. We struggle to provide concrete answers, but the reality is that there are no simple solutions to this complex issue. The conflict, poverty, and human rights issues for women in Afghanistan have to be dealt with through multiple approaches and include creative, committed efforts from many different people both within Afghanistan, and from the international community. What we DO know is that our individual actions do matter. TAKE ACTION!
Obviously, and most urgently, Afghanistan must have peace and the rebuilding of civil society, which involves the efforts of all Afghan people—including women, and the international community. Issues relating to the extreme poverty and massive resettlement of the largest refugee population in the world in Afghanistan must be addressed.
Become fully aware of your rights and acknowledge that protection of human rights is everyone’s responsibility. The very basic rights previously denied Afghan women--access to healthcare, education, freedom of association and security, etc.--are guaranteed to ALL people through
the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The next step is political and social advocacy work, which is essential for safeguarding human rights for everyone, including Afghan women. Advocacy can have many outlets:
• Learn about the issues and strive to address the very complex elements of the issues and various perspectives, as well as the options for solutions. Inform yourself and draw our own conclusions from a variety of sources: through human rights and women’s groups, local library resources, internet web pages and discussion groups, community groups, international conferences, and so on.
• Raise awareness in your community, in your country. Speak out for the need to secure and protect women’s rights in Afghanistan and help others learn to respect these rights. Join in solidarity with others to work towards social justice for Afghan women and their families: join local and national groups, begin a group, support larger international non government organizations like Amnesty, CARE, Doctors Without Borders, or the Red Cross...
• Fundraise by supporting or giving presentations to schools and community groups, host dinners, organize bake sales or poster/banner making gatherings. Use your creative skills to think of other fund raising ideas. Support projects that focus on skills training, incomegenerating, education, health, and other issues important in raising the dignity and quality of life for Afghan women.
• Write letters or compile petitions to voice your concerns to local and national governments and UN representatives.
The following outlines one of many possible suggestions for petitions and letter writing campaigns. Apparently handwritten letters reaching government officials receive the most attention. However, all forms of communication are effective and worthwhile.
Women's Survival Fund
General Talking Points
To President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Reid
We, the undersigned peace and justice leaders, believe that the American military interventions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are deepening quagmires that threaten a Long War without end.
At the current rate of American deaths in Afghanistan, over 1,000 additional American soldiers will be killed in the next two years of “hard fighting” predicted by the Pentagon as the next phase of a ten year occupation. Another $130 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq now is being rushed through a sleeping Congress. An escalation of even more troops is pending.
Now is the time for an exit strategy to end these wars. The government of warlords, drug lords, and landlords we prop up in Kabul is losing more legitimacy by the day. A majority of Americans – including 70 percent from the majority party – now consider Afghanistan a mistake. Leading national security experts even deny that it’s a necessary war.
If we do not decide to disengage at once, our dreams of domestic reform will be squandered by years of war budgets. Our dreams of clean energy will be buried in wars over oil and pipelines. The global good will extended to our new President will be jeopardized.
We understand how difficult it is to reverse a mistaken course. But that is the leadership we need, not one that continually escalates in order not to lose. We have been there.
- Our government should adopt an exit strategy from Afghanistan based on all-party talks, regional diplomacy, unconditional humanitarian aid, and timelines for the near-term withdrawal of American and NATO combat troops.
- The aerial bombardments of Afghan and Pakistan villages, like burning down haystacks to find terrorist needles, should end.
- Military spending should be reversed in Afghanistan to focus on food, medicine, shelter, the socio-economic needs of the poor, and the dignity of women and children.
- President Obama should keep his pledge to withdraw all troops from Iraq by 2011, and prevent American interference in the forthcoming Iraqi elections.
- The President should oppose any Israeli attack on Iran, which will only inflame the regional and global conflict.
Much as we were inspired by Barack Obama’s election, we will not be taken for granted by the President and the Congressional majority. The historic victories in 2006 and 2008 were fueled by popular enthusiasm and unprecedented voter turnouts that cannot be reignited by e-mail solicitations. A growing disenchantment with a costly quagmire will threaten all the hopes of 2008. Everything is related now: we cannot afford national health care, housing, and clean energy while spending billions on quagmires across several continents.
We are prepared to create a storm of protest in Congressional districts and close Senate races. We will form alliances with all those whose hope for health, energy and economic reform are diminished by these wars. We will defend dissent in the armed forces and protect our children from the snares of military recruiters. We will reach out to strengthen a global peace movement, especially in NATO countries.
History shows that terrorist threats can come from German cities, African villages, and even homegrown American cells, not simply the caves of Pakistan.
Our security needs cannot be served by provoking the growing hatred of America caused by repeated invasions of foreign lands. We are human beings who refuse to be defined in the world as mindless military drones and Predators.
ARIEL DORFMAN, Author, Duke University
RABBI STEVEN B. JACOBS, Progressive Faith Foundation
REV. GEORGE REGAS, pastor emeritus, All-Saints Episcopal Church
REV. ED BACON, Pastor, All-Saints Episcopal Church
REV. PETER LAARMAN, Progressive Christians United
DR. NAZIR KHAJA, President, Islamic Information Service
REV. JOHN B. COBB, Claremont Theology School
REV. GEORGE HUNSINGER, Princeton Theology Seminary
REV. JAMES CONN, Director, New Ministries, United Methodist Church
RABBI HAIM DOV BELIAK, Hamifgash
REV. JANET EOLLERY MCKEITHEN, Westside Interfaith Coalition
STEPHEN ROHDE, president, Inter-faith Communities for Peace and Justice, Los Angeles
SENATOR JOHN BURTON, chairman, California Democratic Party
KAREN BERNAL, chair, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party
SUSIE SHANNON, Executive Board Member, California Democratic Party
RAY MCGOVERN, CIA [ret.]
PAUL HAGGIS, film director
SONALI KOHATKAR, Co-director, Afghan Women's Mission
MICHAEL RATNER, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
JODIE EVANS, co-founder, CODE PINK
LESLIE CAGAN, co-founder, United for Peace and Justice
RUSTI EISENBERG, United for Peace and Justice
UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE [UFPJ]
KEVIN MARTIN, PEACE ACTION, Washington
MICHAEL MCPHEARSON, Veterans for Peace
ROBERT NAIMAN, policy director, JUST FOREIGN POLICY
STAUGHTON LYND, historian
VAN GOSSE, co-founder, Historians Against the War
MARC BECKER, co-chair, Historians Against the War
MICHAEL ALBERT, Znet
BILL FLETCHER, Jr., executive director, Black Commentator, co-founder Progressives for Obama
CARL DAVIDSON, webmaster, PROGRESSIVES FOR OBAMA
RICHARD FALK, professor, Princeton University, United Nations rapporteur
LEONARD WEINGLASS, human rights attorney
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA, chair, Department of Government, Cornell University
STANLEY ARONOWITZ, graduate center, City University of New York
JOE FEAGAN, professor, Texas A&M University
ROBERT GREENWALD, Brave New Films
GAEL MURPHY, Code Pink, Washington
TIM CARPENTER, Progressive Democrats of America [PDA]
Empower Women and Girls in Afghanistan
Target: U.S. Senate
Sponsored by: United Nations Foundation
Despite efforts by the U.S. government, the United Nations, and others to improve the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, most still do not enjoy even basic human rights. But you have the power to help them.
The Afghan Women Empowerment Act (S. 229), which was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would provide critical resources for Afghan women for:
- Literacy education,
- Technical and vocational training,
- Health care services that would reduce maternal and infant mortality,
- Programs to protect women and girls against sexual and physical abuse, abduction, trafficking and exploitation, and
- Emergency shelters for women and girls who face danger from violence.
In recent months, attacks against schools that educate girls have increased substantially. As the U.S. works to foster democracy in Afghanistan, we must be vigilant in ensuring that women take their rightful place in Afghan society.
Please urge your senator to co-sponsor the Afghan Women Empowerment Act today, and give millions of women and girls a better chance in life.
Subject: Co-sponsor The Afghan Women Empowerment Act of 2009
Dear Senator [Last Name],
Despite efforts by the U.S. government, the United Nations, and others to improve the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, most still do not enjoy even basic human rights.
[Your personal comments will be added here.]
That is why I am writing to urge you to become a co-sponsor of The Afghan Women Empowerment Act of 2009 (S. 229) introduced by Barbara Boxer (D-CA). If passed, this bill will strengthen and empower women and girls in Afghanistan by providing critical resources to non-governmental organizations working to promote literacy education; provide essential health care services; protect women and girls from trafficking, abuse and sexual violence; and assist especially vulnerable populations such as widows and orphans.
This bill is critical as the maternal death rate for Afghan women is tragically high -- with an estimated 1,600 deaths for every 100,000 live births. The bill provides equipment, medical supplies and other assistance to health care facilities to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
Your commitment to help empower women and girls is critical not only to their future, but also to the stability of Afghanistan as a nation.
In recent months, attacks against schools that educate girls have increased substantially. As the U.S. works to foster democracy in Afghanistan, we must be vigilant in ensuring that women take their rightful place in Afghan society. This includes funding to help establish primary and secondary schools for girls; expanding vocational training; and providing special educational opportunities for girls whose schooling was ended by the Taliban.
Please co-sponsor The Afghan Women Empowerment Act of 2009 to support women and girls in Afghanistan and give them opportunities to build a better life.
I look forward to your response on this important issue.
[Your name here]