We the undersigned are a group of women’s rights and citizenry activists, actors of civil society representing various nongovernmental organizations, media, political parties and social institutions. We have travelled along different paths, often difficult and challenging, in order to support women’s demands of equality and rights in their life conditions.
On the eve of the presidential elections in Afghanistan we have united and formed a new coalition. We have named our Campaign 50%, since women represent half of the population and want to voice their demands for equality. The 50%Campaign does not support any particular presidential candidate nor does it position itself on the choice of individuals to vote for their desired candidate. The 50%Campaign wishes to put forward and place women’s demands in the heart of the electoral process.
The 50%Campaign reminds fellow compatriots that the women of this land have marched along side men in the harshest social and economic conditions, in exile and poverty, but have been denied of their basic human rights. We remind our authorities and decision makers of women’s specific demands and needs. These go well beyond legitimate claims for indirect citizen observing of the process regarding eligibility of candidates and the holding of transparent elections that are both the right and responsibility of citizens.
We wish to show that we have a positive vision and that we, as citizens, can influence the reality around us and reach for a more just world and a better life despite the most difficult social and political conditions.
Reaching this objective depends on our will to show that we have the capacity, the wisdom and the courage to experiment diverse forms of citizen action. Experience has proven that in fact all spaces for action and all windows of opportunity which have been neglected by women have been immediately occupied by those who have repressed them. Women’s absence has allowed that the life of each one of us be subdued to the most inhuman deprivations and violent behaviours.
The 50%Campaign knows that democracy and justice cannot be achieved without addressing the condition of women. To achieve our goal, as in the past, we prone non violent action in favour of our civil and individual rights. We can and must be heard.
Armed with the knowledge that equality between the two sexes is a prerequisite for democracy, sustainable development and a viable and humane society that banishes violence, poverty and injustice in Afghanistan;
Convinced that no society can attain democracy without putting an end to discrimination against women;
Adamant about condemning all non transparent negotiations with belligerents and perpetrators of war crimes;
Persuaded that the issue of women’s rights and their plight should be central in all public political debate;
We, women and men of Afghanistan, ask that the candidates and the future president of Afghanistan bring solid responses to our following demands in their programs and proposed policies:
· Put in place mechanisms to achieve a just and sustainable peace in Afghanistan through peaceful solutions by ending bellicose and non transparent negotiations with belligerents.
Three decades of war have cost the lives of millions, man and woman, young and old. A large number of women have mourned their husbands and children. This long and uninterrupted period of armed conflict has also meant that numerous social, economic and cultural opportunities have been lost. This has resulted in underdevelopment of Afghanistan’s society and the exile and displacement of millions of refugees. We demand from the future president to respond clearly to our calls for justice for victims of conflict as a precondition to any solution for peace.
· Guarantee the security of women at the workplace, in marriage and in their access to justice
Political, economic, social and legal security, are basic rights. We ask that the future president prove that he/she is capable of ensuring the security of women in order to develop themselves as full participants of the economic, social and cultural life of the country.
· Call for and organize general mobilization of the population and institutions in favour of women’s literacy and assign to this policy the necessary financial and human resources
Needless to say that most of the problems and challenges faced in Afghanistan stem from illiteracy, lack of general education and access to information. This problem is even more exacerbated in the case of women, as a sheer majority is illiterate. We ask the future President to adopt concrete and efficient measures to drastically reduce illiteracy by targeting young and older women who have passed school age and concomitantly ensure public, free and quality education of children and youth, and equality of access to schools for both girls and boys.
· Abolish all laws that generate particular discrimination against women and incorporate the principle of equality between the sexes in all laws
Even if modification or abolishment of discriminatory laws do not depend solely on the executive power, we know that if he/she shows commitment to equality of the sexes during the campaign, the future President will be able to adopt efficient measures in this direction. This first step will set the tone and allow the parliament and the population to work together towards changes in the civil and criminal codes and in customary law. As a result non-state sectors and actors will be constrained in undertaking discriminatory action and behaviour in regards women as the second sex.
· Ensure full political participation of women and equality with men in decision-making processes
Women, as half of the population, are deprived of political, economic and social opportunities. The Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), signed by Afghanistan, stipulates that women should participate in all elections (and referendums) both as voters and candidates. All signatory States to CEDAW have to ensure that women participate in top decision making without any discrimination i.e. in all State bodies both inside and outside the country.
· Create employment opportunities and provide protection for widows, elderly and disabled women
Afghanistan has a large number of widows of war and as a result female headed households, where the women are the main bread earners. Absence of work opportunities and support systems for women has lead to great impoverishment and the family’s child labour. We ask that the future president adopt a series of efficient policies in regards widows, elderly women and the disabled favouring the unemployed and access to specific social security and protection.
· Ameliorate access to health facilities and related services for all women
Access to reliable and quality health services remains limited in our country. A significant number of women die during pregnancy and child delivery in the absence of the most essential health facilities and services. We demand that the future president act concretely in putting in place prevention and protection measures for women during pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding notably in rural and isolated areas.
We, the 50%Campaign remind the presidential candidates, the future President, the elected representatives and all our fellow compatriots that : Respect and equality of rights of the women of our lives: mother, wife, daughters and sisters, other kin and female friends guarantee freedom, independence, democracy, justice and the pride of our country Afghanistan.
We are in the process of publishing a more detailed leaflet for all those who wish to join their voices
WITH ours and reach the citizens over the country.
Help us seize the electoral momentum to make the voices of Afghanistan’s women be heard.
CONTACT US: firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN the campaign by:
. signing the petition
. sending it to your contacts and collecting signatures
. publicizing the call for 50%Campaign on your website
. introducing these demands on your work agenda
. voicing our concerns in your organization/institution
. soliciting support from individuals and institutions
. helping us distribute leaflets around the country
. mobilising media
. re-printing the leaflet
. translating the call (FOUR versions Dari/English/French:/German are available) and the leaflet (Dari) into other languages
. sending suggestions and ideas
TO SUPPORT THIS CALL, SEND YOUR NAME/ORGANISATION/NATIONALITY