3. November 2021 – AFGHANISTAN
The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan in mid-August shocked and horrified us all. As an organization built on the ashes of genocide, we knew: We cannot stand by idly while the people of Afghanistan have to face this kind of terror.
Together with the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and the agency Cosmonauts & Kings, we launched the #DefendAfghanWomen initiative with the goal of raising funds for women’s and human rights organizations that are providing vital aid on the ground, and to draw attention to what is happening in Afghanistan. In addition, we held a press conference on Aug. 31, 2021 to talk about our political responsibility to protect women in Afghanistan and to voice our demands to policy makers. The event could be followed online via livestream.
Aug. 31 fell on the day the U.S. military ended its evacuation flights, while the Bundeswehr ended theirs a couple days prior. Thus, the window of opportunity for action became smaller and smaller, the situation for women in the country worsening by the hour and more and more people becoming at risk of being left behind. Among those were people who had helped build legal structures in the country, and women who had grown up with school and professional education and relative freedoms, who had worked as journalists, lawyers, teachers or women’s rights activists.
Our press conference panel included: human rights activist Zarifa Ghafari, the first and only woman to hold the office of mayor in Afghanistan, Hila Limar, chair of Visions for Children, Marjan Hai of the Global Movement for Peace in Afghanistan, our chairwoman Düzen Tekkal, Kristina Lunz of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, and Daniela Schwarzer of Open Society Foundations.
Each of them forcefully drew attention to the untenable situation in Afghanistan and/or recounted their personal experience of what it means that the Taliban are now back in power, and highlighted the urgency of internationally coordinated action.
Zarifa Ghafari expressed her anger and despair: “I am worried about the women. Everything is gone, we have to start all over again. We have lost everything. It is important to stand together with all the women, men and children of Afghanistan. We need to talk about all that has happened in the last 20 years. We need to talk to the women of Afghanistan. I need the solidarity of women all over the world.”
Finally, Kristina Lunz from the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy presented our demands to policy makers: – Special quotas for those particularly at risk – Embassy offices at the borders for fast asylum procedures – Financial & non-material support for women’s organizations – Holistic psychosocial support.
The world must not lose interest. We must continue to listen to these women and continue to support those left behind in Afghanistan. The pressure on governments and politicians must remain, even now that the topic of Afghanistan is disappearing from the media and the public eye.