Daily life in Herat, Afghanistan. Photo credit: UN/Eric Kanalstein.

WILPF Afghanistan Group is sowing the first seeds, bringing together for the first time women, men and youth to work for the inclusion of Afghan women in peace building programs and give them an active role.

Over recent years WILPF has increased its activities in the Middle East, with WILPF Afghanistan’s entry into the WILPF family coming at a time of great expansion of WILPF’s partnerships with local civil society groups in the region.

Home to numerous ethnic groups and cultures since the beginning of time, the modern history of Afghanistan is steeped in conflict and, more recently, in chaos.

It was labeled in 2002 as the country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, where nearly 60% of girls are married by 16 and 85% of women are illiterate. This data shows Afghanistan as one of the most challenging places to be born a woman.

Although the capacity and number of organisations working for women’s rights in Afghanistan is still very low and limited, positive developments towards women’s rights, participation and development have also been made.

We reached out to the group’s lead, Jamila Afghani, to get to know more about the present and the future of this new national group.

What was the main reason to become part of the WILPF family?

Afghanistan has gone through many decades of war and has been the conflict zone for many years. Women have always been victims of this war and conflict and have suffered both physically and mentally, they are in dire need of peace and freedom, because it is the peace and freedom which may heal the wounds of these years of conflict.

In what ways do you believe that WILPF Afghanistan Group will make a difference in addressing the root causes of violence in communities around the country?

Women have always been treated as second gender and they do not have any role in the society and peace making up to now. However, they are new hopes for the future, the presence of partial democracy and support of the international community to empower women is paving the way for more roles of women in the tomorrow Afghanistan where WILPF Afghanistan will have its strong presence through contribution and expand of women’s role in peace process.

What difficulties have you faced up until now, and what challenges do you believe that WILPF Afghanistan Group will experience in the future?

One of the biggest challenges that afghan people in general face is the insecurity and the traditional and cultural barriers that prevent women from being involved in the peace process and social activist in the society. However, we the group of, WILPF Afghanistan strongly believe that our struggle will bring positive changes in the mind set up of the people and will over urn the behaviour.

What are WILPF Afghanistan Group’s main aims for the upcoming year, and what do you hope to achieve?

Our main aim is to work for Afghanistan as peace makers and give women role in the development, freedom and prosperity in order to be able to become active and constructive member of the global movement for peace and freedom.