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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan


Esanullah Eshan is a man under siege.

It's not so much the weekly threats of beatings or bombings that dog him from first prayer to last. It's figuring out where to seat the 500 brassy women who stream through the doors of his school, the Afghanistan-Canadian Community Centre, to risk their lives in pursuit of diplomas, jobs and dreams.

Just beyond the school's gates, merely showing their eyes in public could be a punishable offence. Here in Mr. Eshan's office, the sexes are startlingly equal.

More Afghan women are choosing suicide to escape the violence and brutality of their daily lives, says a new human-rights report prepared by Canada's Foreign Affairs Department.

The 2008 annual assessment paints a grim picture of a country where violence against women and girls is common, despite rising public awareness among Afghans and international condemnation.

“Self-immolation is being used by increasing numbers of Afghan women to escape their dire circumstances, and women constitute the majority of Afghan suicides,” said the report, completed in November 2009.

Eva Sajoo
Remarks presented at the CESS Conference, University of Toronto,
October 9, 2009.  

I would like to share the focus of my recent research on Afghanistan and the challenges in educational provision common to transitional societies.   My study compared educational challenges in Afghanistan to those in other transitional contexts, including Tajikistan, South Africa and Indonesia.  While the parallels and divergences are fascinating, I will focus here on only two questions.

First, what is the link between human rights, education and stability?

The news seems so full of the world's pain and suffering?  It is easy to feel overwhelmed and useless, especially when you are a small church or parish with limited resources.  We can't solve all the world's problems, but we can continue to pray and be ready when an opportunity arises which will benefit even a few.

Lauryn Oates was just 14 when she became a human rights campaigner.

Back in 1996, the then-Grade 9 student read a newspaper article about the Taliban's banning of women from schools that infuriated her.

"At that time I don't think I could place Afghanistan on a map, but I was so enraged by what I read. I just couldn't shake my fury and disbelief that my counterparts in that part of the world had effectively been stripped of their rights, simply for being female," said Oates, now 27.

Help Afghan women -- and win the debate over the war Why are 42 nations in Afghanistan and why has the UK lost over 200 of its armed personnel there? This apparently deadly question is rolling around the corridors of power and beyond like a grenade with its pin pulled out. 

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth says this is a war to "protect our national security." But the current Western approach seems to be counterproductive, both militarily and in terms of support from the Afghan people. 

In Washington and London, politicians debate whether to send more troops toAfghanistan or pull out entirely. But Afghan women leaders have a differentmessage: Give us stronger support from the troops and NGOs already here.
by  Gayle Tzemach Lemmon


Despite it being a long distance call and a bad line, I can detect the frustration in her voice. ''Women? No one listens to women''.

In early October, approximately 90 members and supporters from all across Canada joined together in Vancouver over two and a half days to dialogue on the issues effecting Afghan women and their families. Focusing on education, these workshops were designed to engage Canadians in understanding the importance of education for women and girls in Afghanistan. The event was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Afghan Women Have A Say About U.S. Strategy The U.S. is reexamining its strategy in Afghanistan. Guest host Jacki Lyden speaks with Mary Akrami, of the Afghan Women Skills Development Center, and  Orzala Ashraf, an independent human rights activist, about how the role of women in Afghanistan has changed over the past eight years and what potential shifts in U.S. policy could mean for Afghan women.

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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

Registered Charity #887718203RR0001

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