The developing situation in Afghanistan presents extraordinary new challenges and opportunities for Afghan women. IHRLG's work since 1997 has focused on working with Afghan women to ensure that they are ready and able to play a leading role in rebuilding Afghanistan following a transition in that country. We have been actively engaged in efforts to ensure that the exclusion and isolation that Afghan women have suffered under the Taliban is not paralleled within the process underway to discuss Afghanistan's future.
Afghan women stand ready to play a significant role in the ongoing process, and their involvement is essential to the success of the deliberations and to implementation of the steps necessary to build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. To ensure that the voices of Afghan women are heard, IHRLG has worked to bridge the gap between Afghan women refugees in Pakistan and the policy discussions occurring in the US and Europe regarding their future. In addition to engaging in high-level advocacy work at the United States Department of State and the United Nations, IHRLG has
- Mobilized a record number of Afghan women lawyers for a capacity building training in October 2001, which was geared toward the establishment of an Afghan Women Lawyers Association in Afghanistan.
- Organized the first-ever all-women Jirga on December 25, 2001 in Peshawar, Pakistan in which more than 500 Afghan women participated. The all-women Jirga was organized by Afghan refugee women leaders, facilitated by the International Human Rights Law Group and presided over by Bibi Shifiqa Siraj, a senior Afghan woman leader and sister of the former Afghan King Amanullah.
- Worked with the UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office to ensure the inclusion of a 10-member Afghan women delegation from Pakistan to the November 2001 NGO Forum in Bonn and December 2000 UNIFEM Consultation in Brussels.
To support Afghan women leaders in their involvement in Afghanistan's post-conflict reconstruction and transition, IHRLG's women's rights advocacy staff in Pakistan and Washington are drawing on IHRLG's experience in training local groups in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.