Twenty years of conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in more than 1.5 million deaths, an estimated 25 million citizens living in severe poverty, and the displacement of an estimated 3 to 4 percent of the population. Since 1994, the Taliban has practiced the most violent, systematic oppression of women in the world today. Every facet of women's lives is affected, including their ability to go outside their homes, their education, their employment and their health. At grave risk, many women in Afghanistan are finding ways to educate themselves and their daughters and silently network among themselves and Afghan women in other countries to get their stories out.
More than 2 million Afghan refugees now live in Pakistan. Afghan refugee women within that community confront discrimination, poverty, and enormous barriers in traversing the legal system to secure protection of their fundamental rights. Despite these obstacles, Afghan refugee women leaders have mobilized women to develop health programs and micro-credit schemes, open multi-ethnic NGOs, establish information networks, and secure commitments from international relief organizations in Pakistan to invest in the education of girls.
Since 1995, IHRLG has worked with women's rights activists in numerous countries to address the growing threat of religious extremism. Since 1997, as part of that ongoing effort, we have provided Afghan and Pakistani women with opportunities to develop a comparative understanding of international human rights standards through working with women from other countries where religious extremism and violence against women persist. IHRLG opened our office in Peshawar, Pakistan, in February 2001 to
- Strengthen the capacity of Afghan refugee women leaders to use legal avenues in advocating for women's human rights;
- Facilitate coalition building among Afghan and Pakistani women to promote the rights of women refugees and combat religious extremism in the region; and
- Train and partner with local women leaders in conducting international advocacy and public awareness campaigns on violence against women.
In preparation for Afghanistan's eventual post-conflict reconstruction and transition, IHRLG is amplifying the voices of Afghan women leaders we work with to press the international community to commit to assuring Afghan women's full participation in peace negotiations, transitional justice processes, and the establishment of a post-conflict government.
Click on the links below to learn more about IHRLG's activities in Afghanistan/Pakistan
Cultivating legal literacy and building capacity for women's rights advocacy
Preparing for Afghanistan's post-conflict transition