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OPAWC (Organization of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities) is a local organisation in Afghanistan; it was established in 2003 by a group of women eager to do something proactive, concrete and achievable to empower Afghan women. They realized that if a significant number of women could have access to these basic human rights they could have a foothold on the journey to achieve their constitutional right of equality and even address areas of redress yet to be written into law. Its working objective is help Afghan women build the skills which will allow then to break the cycle of dependence and victimization in a male dominated and fundamentalist social structure. They support activities and projects which allow women gain an education have the ability to read and write, develop the skills which will allow then to earn a living wage, delivering health care to rural areas.  OPAWC continues to search for creative and diverse ways to build a future for the women of Afghanistan.  Through the three-pronged approach of education, economic opportunity and health, a real and irreversible foundation will be built.

To find out more please visit the OPAWC website.

It still remains that afghan women live in a society which is male dominated, many women find their roles are confined to the household. While there are some women playing roles outside of this, engaging in politics, the economy and engaging in social activities. It could be said that these are really symbolic roles. for example two leading Afghan women, Ms Suraya Parlika, Head of Afghan Women Association and Ms Fozia Kofi, a member of Parliament, have both themselves said that their roles are symbolic in the government and that the government does not gave them the right to play their roles or to take part in decision or law making. It can be said therefore where is the true existence of Democracy and right and equality of women in Afghanistan

There have been some positive changes for women in Afghanistan, if we compare previous years of war these positive changes can be seen, for example girls can to go to school, women can work in different place together with men in the capital city, although this is not the same in all areas of the country.

The positive changes made, therefore need to be maintained and developed otherwise they will not be sustainable. The international community needs to play its part by working together; currently there is a situation in Afghanistan which sees many international organisations working under different names supporting activities for women, while claiming to provide equality and helping bring democracy for women. And while funding is important it is not helpful to shower money in the name of women, without real change within the society.

For these changes to be sustainable, practical decisions need to be taken instead of slogans. Women need to be supported and given a real opportunity to play active roles; this cannot happen by force and the roles supported should not be symbolic either, because this allows the world to think that women‘s right are okay in Afghanistan.

The main challenges for women in Afghanistan are still the existent of the wrong views of some mullahs, religious groups and the Taliban. Social factors such as poor national security, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty are also major other challenges women find themselves facing.

Whose attitudes within society need to be changed to ensure equality, is a question that is being asking from all.  Change needs to take place to ensure equality, to assist this change people need to make decision themselves not listen to others, or elements of a corrupted government. Education can help in this too by people creating campaigns and developing awareness programs.

The attitudes of some religious Mullahs also need to be changed through educating them on the right way of being a Mullah. This will then allow then to teach others about respecting women’s rights and equality.

There are also criminals within Afghanistan who are the causing many distractions and contributing to inequality and violence. These people need to be held to account; they should be punished for their wrong doing in the international court and those holding government positions should be removed and face legal proceedings.  This will set an example to others and go some way to ensuring and protecting women’s rights and equality.

For women to develop their futures, they need to be provided with an education and programs which enhance their skills. They also need to be educated on their rights and rights as a human being.

As the director of OPAWC a centre  where we see more than 300 women coming and attending  different activities, we have learnt that the first desire of these women is to  be educated, be made aware of the their rights and to find the solution to fight against the violence’s they face.

Because OPAWC is committed to helping these women our aspiration for afghan women is: “To have educated and well known women who can think and work independently.”

Education and awareness is the key to this success and preventing women from having to deal with the many current challenges.

Q&A conducted with OPAWC Director Ms Latifa Ahmad. 

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