On Sunday 27th November, Zehra Zaidi, Co-founder of Action for Afghanistan organised a rally to call for urgent action against the Taliban’s violations against women’s fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan. Prominent activists including Fawzia Koofi, Shukria Barakzai, Malala Yousafzai, Atefa Tayeb, Hammasa Kohistani and Sveto Muhammad Ishoq, all demonstrated their support at the event. Many other organisations showed their solidarity including Islamic Relief, Fawcett Society, and Sanctuary Foundation.
Their 3 key asks included:
1. Establish a specific asylum route for Afghan women at risk
2. Protect the Afghanistan aid budget from cuts in the Autumn statement
3. Afghanistan policy & any UK negotiation with the Taliban must centre the human rights of Afghan women + girls
Starting from Park Lane, the rally ended in Westminster with speeches from Hammasa Kohistani, Fawzia Koofi and Malala Yousafzai.
There are severe and unacceptable violations against women’s fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan.
Girls REMAIN EXCLUDED from secondary education, and are now PREVENTED from entering parks, gyms, public places and being in public without a male companion. Women are confined to their homes, tantamount to imprisonment which is likely to lead to increased levels of domestic violence and mental health issues.
Taliban officers are brutally beating men accompanying women wearing colourful clothing, or without a face covering. Men are being punished for the purported offences of women. The Taliban are instrumentalising one gender against the other by encouraging men to control the behaviour, attire and movement of women in their circles (UN News, 2022).
Solidarity from all corners is needed to call for urgent change now.
Marches, rallies and protests are a proven catalyst for social change. They empower people by showing them that there are thousands of people who think the same things, help to draw attention to a political issue on a wider scale and put pressure on governments to take debate the issue and take action. Action for Afghanistan will host another march soon and we’ll be there again to show our support. We hope you will too.
Posters were designed by the amazing University of Gloucestershire’s Design and Creative Advertising students, including:
Siobhan Smith Design
Cels J Design
@caryskh_ads & @abereenedesigns