KABUL: The Embassy of Canada in Afghanistan on Sunday has launched its campaign to commemorate the “16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence”, by lighting up the Embassy with orange lights. This is the first of a series of initiatives taking place during the 16-day campaign starting on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ending on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
The orange lights capitalize on the campaign theme “Orange the World”, which amplifies the voices of individuals around the world who have survived violence or who strive to defend the rights of survivors.
Canada is a world leader in the promotion and protection of women’s rights and gender equality and seeks to empower Afghan women at home, in the work place and in the government. Canada also seeks to empower women as active participants in peace talks and as leaders in their communities.
Studies demonstrate that a majority of Afghan women have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence at some point in their lives. “Gender-Based violence should be a concern for everyone. We call on the people of Afghanistan, the Afghan Government, international allies, civil society and human rights institutions to help end gender-based violence in homes, schools, and communities”, said Canadian Ambassador Dave Metcalfe. “What will you do to stand up against gender-based violence?”
As part of the 16 Days campaign, the Canadian Embassy will host a panel on the importance of security and judicial sectors to protect and support women who have experienced violence. The Embassy is also funding activities throughout the 16 Days delivered by “Equality for Peace and Democracy”. This Afghan civil society organization will host lectures, a play and poetry readings among other activities in multiple provinces across Afghanistan to raise awareness on the need to eliminate gender-based violence. The Canadian embassy is also hosting a women’s bazaar to support women’s economic empowerment. The Embassy is pleased to host a screening of “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha”, an Afghan fiction movie that shows the stories of three Afghan women facing challenges and violence.
The number of girls in school in Afghanistan is now six times higher than it was 18 years ago. Over two and a half thousand women have joined the police force, and Afghanistan has nearly 300 women judges. Women are now more visible than ever as leaders, activists, politicians, artists and business owners.
“We stand together with the survivors of gender-based violence. Together, we can break the cycle of violence”, concluded Ambassador Metcalfe.
This comes as violence against Afghan women unabated despite laws and policies after the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, or AIHRC, in its new report said that violence against women in the country has increased 8 percent with 2,762 cases this year.
AIHRC said it has recorded 2,762 cases of violence against women throughout the country in the past seven months of the current year; however, 2,536 cases were registered in the same period in the last year that has revealed 8 percent increase.