In February, the Musharikat Project conducted a series of three regional consultative forums in Mazar, Jalalabad and Herat, bringing together about 100 activists and civil society organizations working to advance women’s rights and empowerment in Afghanistan. Every province in all three regions were represented, including Kunduz, Nooristan, Ghor and Badakshan. During these events, women leaders worked together to identify and explore the priority issues which impede their ability to exercise their rights and fully participate in Afghan society. Lack of access to education and justice and low awareness and understanding of women’s rights surfaced as common themes across the three regions.
These forums will help shape the Promote Musharikat National Summit planned for May where hundreds of women leaders from the farthest reaches of the country will convene in Kabul to decide the 12 most important issues limiting women’s full participation in Afghan society and form the first Musharikat Issues-Based Coalitions (IBCs). These coalitions will then develop advocacy campaigns to address the highest priority issues − as defined by Afghan women themselves. Led by Afghan civil society representatives and supported by Musharikat, the Coalitions will engage with a wide range of stakeholders − interested citizens, government and private sector partners, community and religious leaders and media − to effect desired change for Afghan women, families, communities and the country.
One participant who traveled for two days to attend the Mazar forum said, “I have attended many women support programs. The reason I am attending this program with such great interest is because we are making the agenda and telling the project what issues we have to work on for Afghan women to strengthen their empowerment and equality.”