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Afghan women call for continued European support

The Afghan Women’s Days conference hosted by the European Parliament wrapped up today. The two-day conference was organized to highlight the plight of women and girls living in Afghanistan after external forces pulled out of the country last year. The event featured many women who are journalists, human rights activists and former government officials from Afghanistan who have experienced the reduction of their rights due to the Taliban rule. 

“Unfortunately there are humanitarian catastrophes going on and it’s a horrendous human rights situation in the country,” former Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan, Sima Samar, said. “Not only for the women and girls, but for everyone.” 

Samar called for the European Union to support the humanitarian needs of all people in Afghanistan by channeling aid through organizations like UNICEF and the WHO, rather than through the government. 

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All of the Afghan women, including Samar, who participated in the conference were finalists for the Sakharov prize in 2021. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the highest award that the European Parliament can give to human rights activists around the world. While the 2021 award went to Alexei Navalny for his anti-corruption work in Russia, these women have also been recognized in their struggle to get women’s rights in Afghanistan. 

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“We hold this event to give Afghan women and girls a voice in our house and to honour and support the human rights work achieved by the 2021 Afghan Women finalists for the Sakharov prize,” Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, said. “Together we will seek ways to help both those on the ground and those who were forced to flee from their homes.”

The programme featured discussions about the future of women in Afghanistan as well as how to best support women’s rights activists both in the country and living in exile. Many of the women who participated in the conference were themselves exiled from the country or targeted by the Taliban for their work for gender equality.

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