The European Parliament has called upon members of the international community to show its support for Afghan women. Since the Taliban took control of two-thirds of Afghanistan, Afghan women and girls of all ages have been subjected by law to extreme conditions of exclusion. The Taliban regime has denied the basic human rights of girls and women in Afghanistan.  They are barred from receiving any education and are banned from work, they are not allowed to leave the home unaccompanied and are denied even the right to speak in public. They are forced to wear garments which cover their entire bodies, effectively making them invisible - shadows deprived of their right to choose and to lead fulfilling lives.

This year marks the fiftieth Anniversary of the adoption and proclamation by the UN General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. Yet it cannot be viewed as a joyous celebration when flagrant violations of the most basic human rights continue to occur all over the world.

A Flower for the Women of Kabul
In response to the call of the European Parliament, the European Community Humanitarian Office, ECHO, created its own initiative 'A Flower for the Women of Kabul' which is designed to focus public attention on the plight of Afghan women. Emma Bonino, European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs stated "We should use International Women's Day as an opportunity to show solidarity with Afghan women who have been stripped of rights we all take for granted". WomenAid, in its capacity as a working partner of ECHO, supported the March 8 initiative.

Solidarity Campaign for the Women of Afghanistan
To ensure action continues until the women regain their rights WomenAid launched a Solidarity Campaign for the Women of Afghanistan. Their sense of isolation and despair is deepened by their belief that the world is unaware of their plight. The denial of their basic human rights is one of the most flagrant abuses of human rights in any country and has turned them into voiceless shadows. WomenAid joins ECHO in urging all member governments of the United Nations

  • To withhold recognition of any regime in Afghanistan, so long as gender discrimination is imposed in the country;

  • To do all in their power to ensure that international humanitarian aid be   made accessible to Afghan women without discrimination;

  • To apply pressure, both directly and indirectly, to ensure that the Declaration on Human Rights is respected in Afghanistan, and the rights of women are upheld.

Signatures are being collected for the Petition and will be forwarded to Mrs Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to Taliban. WomenAid is also raising funds for Afghan womens' groups and projects.