10 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-163

Qalat celebrates International Women’s Day

QALAT, Afghanistan – The women of Qalat felt secure enough to celebrate International Women’s Day here, March 8, at the girl’s school, but stressed the importance of increasing security in the province, especially for women. 

In an event attended by Zabul Province’s governor Del Bar Jan Arman, local Afghan leaders, the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department, the Qalat Provincial Reconstruction Team, the United Nations and others, several women reiterated that safety and security issues need to be tackled, in addition to women’s rights being increased.  

“The women are now attempting to get rights, but the security is not good,” said Maryam, a 36-year-old resident of Qalat and teacher of third and fourth grades at the girl’s school. “I’m requesting ISAF and Coalition Forces to make security better so women can get their rights. Women’s rights are getting worse when we should be equal and have more of a partnership.”   

The Zabul Provincial Council’s secretary, Fauzia, who helped arrange the event for the women of Qalat, said her goal was to give women a voice for equality and a venue to express the sentiment.  “I helped arrange this celebration today because this is the holy day for women across the world. I wanted to do this so women could ask for their rights. We are trying to show the government that women are equal and can perform governmental positions,” she said. 

“All over the world women are celebrating this day. I’m really proud that our women are showing up and demanding better treatment in spite of the security concerns,” she added. 

The governor was pleased to see over 70 women and girls in attendance and praised them for having the courage to come out in celebration of the special day. He said setting aside one day a year is not enough to show the vital role women play to society.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t paid enough attention to women and the enemy has played a great role in keeping women down,” Arman said in a speech to the congregation. “Saying that God is against education is nothing but lies. How can they [the enemy] argue that the rights of women are against Islam? These evil people just want to destroy our country by burning our schools and keeping oppression of the people high.”

Another issue women are looking to rectify is the right to choose a husband.

“A woman should have the right to choose whom she wants to marry, not have it forced on her. We should be able to choose our husbands and be treated with respect,” Fauzia added. 

Although this is the third year Zabul has celebrated International Women’s Day, it is the first time the event was so large and attended by so many key players of the province.  For the women of Zabul, that could be a good sign for things to come. 

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/