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Women fighting against harassment in Afghanistan

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Lucy Miller
WVoN co-editor

The fight for equality in Afghanistan is being stepped up a notch by a group of pioneering young females.

Young Women for Change (YWC) is a grassroots movement for gender equality in Afghanistan, founded in April 2011 by Noorjahan Akbar and Anita Hadiary.

There have been women’s groups in Afghanistan for half a century, but the new generation is making more noise than ever before.

The organisation is one of the first advocacy groups set up by, and for, Afghan women. Its members fight for long-term empowerment and social inclusion, focusing their energies on female education.

On January 13 and 14, Hadiary’s documentary film, entitled “This is My City Too,” was premiered to a group of 25 men and women at the Certe Media headquarters in Kabul.

The film shows interviews discussing the reasons behind street harassment.

Today, International Women’s Day 2012, Young Women for Change is launching its biggest project yet – an internet café in Kabul.

Hadiary says: “The primary purpose of this internet cafe is to create a place for Afghan women where they feel safe, and that connects them to the world – to empower them by giving them access to knowledge outside their small framed world.

“The second purpose is to provide a place for where they can interact and talk about their issues, create debate and learn from each other’s experience and knowledge.

“The other purpose of creating this internet cafe is to show people that we can build something totally from donations and local projects and make it sustainable. This will be the first independent, all women internet cafe in Kabul.”

Akbar and Hadiary formed the group in response to the slow pace of change over the last decade, and they aren’t willing to compromise with conservatives.

Instead of quotas or policies, they want concrete things to change – the behaviour of men towards women on the streets, the behaviour and attitudes of police, and the decisions made by courts.

Last July they marched through downtown Kabul, in Afghanistan’s first ever public demonstration against sexual harassment (see WVoN story).

Akbar, in an interview with UN Dispatch, said that she was motivated to set up YWC because existing women’s groups were not interested in recruiting younger members.

It is a myth, she says, that only the uneducated or those in rural communities in Afghanistan hold views that are oppressive to women, arguing that strongly conservative beliefs are widely held among the educated and university students.

  1. Lucy Miller says:

    More information on the cafe –

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