This December, DRC Afghanistan looks back at a series of events for DRC staff and community members across the country as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign between 25 November and 10 December 2020. The annual global campaign contributes to worldwide efforts to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) and raise awareness about the rights of women, gender equality and human rights.
DRC events took place in Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar, and Kunar provinces, and focused this year not least on the increase in cases of violence against women during the Covid-19 pandemic. The annually recurring events encourage both beneficiaries, community members and staff to think about and discuss certain cultural barriers, the key role of women in society, and ways of preventing violence.
In Balkh, local events engaged DRC staff and beneficiaries in the efforts to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) and in particular violence against women. This was also where DRC reached out to beneficiaries in vulnerable communities through sessions involving local elders and community representatives. They play a key role in society, and in terms of arrangements related to marriages as well as family and community dispute resolutions.
DRC used the 16 Days of Activism as an opportunity to strengthen protection efforts and facilitate sessions on how and where to report cases of gender-based violence along with ways to respect the sensitivities and confidentialities. Harmful traditional practices like underage marriages, Baad giving (traditional method of settling dispute in Afghanistan), practices of selling girls for marriage or exchanging them in return for goods, were also discussed.
DRC staff in Balkh also raised awareness about risk mitigation, how to prevent violence at the family level, men’s and women’s rights and obligations, gender equality, human rights, and women’s role in society.
In Herat, DRC facilitated discussions and presentations to raise awareness about the sensitivities and need for confidentiality when responding to cases of violence against women. Here, DRC supported the Department of Women’s Affairs to launch a handicrafts exhibition, to showcase opportunities for women to be self-sufficient and gain financial rights.
‘Nowadays, a woman can be a doctor, a teacher, a prosecutor, and a driver like men, because women form half of society and they are able to carry out all these activities,’ said Khalida Farzam, DRC’s Protection Coordinator in Balkh province.
DRC staff, local citizens, NGO partners, elders, community leaders, and government representatives from the Directorate of Refugees and Repatriation (DoRR), the Department of Women's Affairs (DoWA) and the Provincial Governor’s Office were present along with local journalists.
DRC marked the 16 Days of Activism campaign with gatherings in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces hosting the Directorate of Refugees and Repatriation (DoRR), Department of Women's Affairs (DoWA), Governor’s Office, religious leaders and representatives of DRC activities. They came together to speak about the value and history of the Campaign, and the importance of promoting gender equality and the rights of women in society. The religious leader talked about the rights of women for Nikah (marriage), explaining the importance of men and women’s voices and their equal rights in Islam. Nangarhar’s Department of Cultural Affairs department performed stage drama on the rights of women.
DRC’s 16 Days of Activism Events in Afghanistan were supported through funding from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and UN OCHA Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund.