Thu, Oct

Religious scholars, civil society activists discuss women’s empowerment at UN-backed debate

unamaAt a United Nations-backed televised debate in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar, religious scholars and civil society activists stressed the need for public awareness campaigns to be launched focusing on the rights of women and their empowerment. The debate was organized by Zala television station in Kunar with the assistance of the field office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as part of its efforts to promote women’s empowerment and their rights.

The participants in the debate focused on women’s rights of inheritance. In Afghanistan the majority of women are often denied an inheritance after the death of their guardians.

“Ensuring inheritance rights for women helps their economic empowerment. Depriving them of this right could have negative consequences, particularly on their wellbeing,” said a former member of Kunar’s Provincial Council and women’s rights activist, Tawraj Akbarzai.

The participants also discussed Afghanistan’s law on the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) and stressed that its implementation is critical for women’s empowerment and protection of their rights.

Afghanistan’s EVAW law criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women, including child and forced marriages, rape and beating, and specifies punishment for perpetrators.

UNAMA’s latest report on the EVAW law, released in December 2013, found that the authorities in Afghanistan registered more cases of violence against women in 2013, but the number of prosecutions and convictions under the law remained low, with most cases settled by mediation.

At the debate, the participants also brought up the issue of education for girls and called upon parents to allow their girls to attend school, which they said was a basic right.

A participant from civil society, Sayed Agha Miakhel, highlighted the issue of Ba’ad – the act of giving girls in exchange to settle a dispute or a murder case. He expressed satisfaction that cases of Ba’ad had significantly decreased in the region due to the active efforts of relevant institutions and international organizations.

The programme reached an audience of 800,000 people in the region through Zala television and radio stations.