Women rights boosted in Balkh

Mazar-e Sharif, April 2013. To boost women rights for the first time on the district and local level in Balkh province, EUPOL Field Office in Mazar-e Sharif co-organised an USAID-supported two-day conference in Mazar-e-Sharif under the title of “National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) - Regional Conference North”. More than 60 female participants and a number of religious scholars and mullahs took part, and the outcome was encouraging.

“Different counterparts decided to speed up women’s rights and to inform the civil society about them. It has been for the very first time that women will be enabled by NAPWA to engage at district level with the support of elders and Mullahs also in the villages of Region North”, says Col. Najiba from the Human Rights, Gender and Juvenile Unit at the Regional Police Headquarters. He is one of EUPOLs mentees and is as well as the other participants committed to implement the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) in the Northern province - an effort by the Afghan government to support the advancement of women through gender equality in all social and political realms of the public sector. The overall goal is gender equality and empowerment of women. His view is supported by Hanifa Aminpoor, Deputy Head of the Samangan Provincial Council: “This is a big step towards implementing women rights on the local level.” The major outcome is now a tight action plan, which will be very closely followed by Rabeia Muradi, the Head of Department of Women’s Affairs.

The implementation of this action plan is now the huge task for all participants. EUPOL Rule of Law mentor Sylwia Zalewska is rather confident and content with the results of the conference: “I am really delighted that NAPWA activities will start with immediate effect, with working and implementation groups in the field.” This is a huge step forward, she says: “Although NAPWA’s implementation should have started 2007 nearly no information has been come to the provinces in the North region in the meantime, but at this conference we have seen, now it is the right time to go ahead – in close touch with the elders and with the support of the mullahs.”

The conference was also organised by the Association of Defence for Women’s Rights (ADWRO). The Association is based in Balkh and caters to the legal needs of Afghan women. The organization was established by 12 civil society actors in 2002 and since then has been carrying out activities advocating for social and legal rights to bring about lasting improvements for Afghan women.

 Background about NAPWA:

 The National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) is an effort by the Afghan government to support the advancement of women through gender equality in all social and political realms of the public sector. Specifically, this strategy framework is the responsibility of the government of Afghanistan to implement in all ministries and provincial ministries. Its two pronged approach is gender equality and empowerment of women. The plan has come about based on the guidelines and commitments of the Afghanistan Compact and Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and its implementation fulfills benchmarks set within the Compact and the ANDS. For the government of Afghanistan this as major component of achieving gender equality and mainstreaming through a systemic and sustainable method at a variety of government ministries, agencies, and provincial government bodies. The overall goal of NAPWA is to create, within institutions, both a concern for gender issues and the inclusion of women when creating budgets, policies, services, recruitment, promotion, and opportunities.

About the Association of Defence for Women’s Rights (ADWRO)

The Association of Defence for Women’s Rights is based in Balkh and caters to the legal needs of Afghan women. The organization was established by 12 civil society actors in 2002 and since then has been carrying out activities advocating for social and legal rights to bring about lasting improvements for Afghan women. The ADWRO looks forward to a society free of any kind of physical and mental violence against women, and one where women share an equal role with men in building an independent and prosperous Afghanistan.