In his State of the Union address several weeks ago, President Bush declared that US military action in Afghanistan’shad successfully liberated the country’s women from the Taliban’s grip. In rousing tones, he announced: “The lasttime we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbiddenfrom working or going to school. Today women are free, and are part of Afghanistan’s new government.”
But have Afghan women really been “liberated”? And are they really better off now than under the Taliban? Well, aswomen around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, a group of Afghan women leaders and women’s rightsactivists from around the world are holding their first meeting in Kabul to discuss ongoing challenges and historicnext steps for Afghan women. The meeting brings together more than 30 prominent Afghan women leaders, who havetraveled against all odds from Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, and other regions. The discussions are a follow up tothe Afghan Women’s Summit For Democracy, which was held in Brussels in December. The goal of the Summit was to bringthe voices of Afghan women into the political discourse and ensure that women have equal say and rights in the newinterim government.
We head now to Kabul to speak with some of the organizers of this weekend’s talks on the future of Afghan Women.The event is sponsored by V-Day, the global movement to stop violence against women and girls, as well as EqualityNow and the Center for Strategic Initiatives of Women.
- Eve Ensler, playwright and founder of V-Day. Ensler traveled underground in Afghanistan two years ago,long before the international community began to pay attention the situation of Afghan women. The Kabul talkscoincide with the opening of Ensler’s play “Necessary Targets” Off-Broadway in NYC. Based on interviews with numerouswomen who survived the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, “Necessary Targets” provides a timely reminder of theeffects of war on women in America and overseas.
- Hibaaq Osman, Founding Director of the Center for the Strategic Initiatives of Women, an organization thathas been convening women leaders across Somalia and Sudan to promote peace efforts in the region. She was born inSomalia.