In Celebration Of Freedom, Afghan Women’s Summit Defines The Path And Launches A Global Campaign For Human Rights And Democracy In Afghanistan

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Education, Healthcare, Women’s Rights, Refugees, And Culture : Women Define The Priorities In Brussels Proclamation:

Officials From the European Union, United Nations And Women’s Rights Activists From Around The World Join In Solidarity And Support


European Media:
Cécile Gréboval, European Women’s Lobby, +32 2 217 90 20,
U.S. Media:
Susan Celia Swan, V-Day, + 1 917 865 6603, + 1 212 445 3288,
Millicent White, Ruder Finn, + 1 212 593 6353,

Brussels, Thursday, December 6, 2001--At the close of the Afghan Women’s Summit, Afghan women released The Brussels Proclamation, a blueprint that outlines in detail their comprehensive vision for the future and specifies their immediate reconstruction needs. The Proclamation represents a historic expression of their long held dreams and aspirations, together with a list of concrete demands for immediate implementation.

The Brussels Proclamation addresses four central components of Afghan society, education and culture, healthcare, refugees, and human rights. It sets forth a range of demands including:

  • The right for women to vote and to be entitled to equal pay and equal access to health care, education and employment
  • An emergency plan for reopening schools by March 2002 for both girls and boys, a new curriculum, and training of teachers
  • The inclusion of Afghan women lawyers in the development of a new constitution which would include the principles of non-discrimination
  • The rebuilding of hospitals and provision of vital medicines, treatments and services, including psychological counseling and mother and child healthcare
  • Central inclusion of women in the Loya Jirga
  • The protection of women from forced underage marriages and sexual harassment

Following the Summit, a delegation of Afghan women from the meeting will carry The Brussels Proclamation to key political decision-makers. Their first stop is a scheduled meeting with the European Parliament today, December 6th. The delegation is also expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and the U.N. Security Council in the following weeks.

The Afghan Women’s Summit provided a unique forum for a diverse group of Afghan women from all parts of the world including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the Central Asian Republics, the United States, Canada and Europe and from different ethnic, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. The Summit was the largest global gathering of Afghan women leaders to focus on the role of women in post-Taliban Afghanistan. In response to a request from women of Afghanistan for support and solidarity, the European Women's Lobby, Equality Now, V-Day, the Center for Strategic Initiatives of Women, and The Feminist Majority hosted the Summit, in collaboration with the Gender Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNIFEM.

Held at the European Commission in Brussels, December 4-5, the Summit aimed to bring the voices of Afghan women into the current international political discourse with officials from the European Union, United Nations, and women’s rights activists from around the world attending.

In solidarity with the Afghan women gathered in Brussels December 4-5th, women’s rights activists from Belgium, Croatia, France, India, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States met in parallel session in Brussels to formulate support strategies for the implementation of The Brussels Proclamation. A number of initiatives were devised by this group, which included activists from war-torn countries, artists, lawyers, funders, and a parliamentarian. Also working with the group were the Gender Advisor to the UN Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UNIFEM.

In their declaration of solidarity, the group made a series of commitments including an advocacy campaign to ensure that the funds allocated by the international community for the reconstruction of Afghanistan are conditioned on the inclusion of women and to declare on International Women’s Day 2002 that for women "Afghanistan is Everywhere" in support of The Brussels Proclamation. The group also undertook to create an international task force of women’s rights lawyers to help ensure the inclusion of women in new legislation and the constitution.

Three of the Summit participants: Sima Wali, primary Afghan organizer of the Summit, along with Seddighe Balkhi and Amena Afzali, came to Brussels from Bonn during the negotiations where they served as delegates. The Summit was by Judge Navanethem Pillay, South African President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

December 6, 2001 - 13:00