Delegates from the Afghan Women's Summit Present Brussels Proclamation to Congressional and State Department Leaders and Press That Aid Be Conditioned on Women's Rights and Directed to Women NGO's in Afghanistan

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Comprehensive Plans for Education, Health Care, Women's Rights, Refugees, and Culture Are Detailed in Brussels Proclamation

For Immediate Release
December 14, 2001

Washington, D.C., Friday, December 14, 2001—Delegates from the Afghan Women’s Summit, which took place last week in Brussels, met yesterday and today with key leaders in Congress and the State Department, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, and urged that aid to Afghanistan be conditioned on full rights for women and that aid be directed to existing women’s NGO’s in Afghanistan.

At the meetings, the delegates presented the Brussels Proclamation for reconstruction of Afghanistan. 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:

  • Making all support, including monetary, from the international community conditional on the rights and treatment of women

  • Donor funding to be channeled through local Afghan Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and a transparent system of accountabilities to be established

  • 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

  • Provision of comprehensive school curriculum based on international standards and the relevant supplies

  • Reopening of institutes of higher education

  • Elimination of child labor and child soldiering

  • Increase of educational, training, capacity building and income generating programs to enhance the special needs of internally displaced refugee women and children

The complete text of the Brussels Proclamation is attached.

The delegation including the following Afghan women, who were joined in the meetings by U.S. feminists such as Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem and Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, one of the conveners of the summit:

Leila Enayat-Seraj, Director of Afghan Art Project for Peace, co-founder of the Committee on the Prevention of Discriminatory Practices Against Women in the United Nations. Based in Switzerland.

Shafiqa Habibi, Former prominent broadcast journalist in Kabul and head of the Women’s Radio and Television Broadcast Organization until the Taliban came to power. Based in Afghanistan.

Adeena Niazi, Former Professor at Kabul University and Founder/Director of Afghan Women’s Organization in Toronto. Based in Canada.

Soraya Paikan, Formerly with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Mazar-e-Sharif. Former Professor of Law, University of Kabul. Fled Afghanistan seven months ago for Peshawar with five of her six daughters.

Sahar Saba, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Based in Pakistan.
Sima Wali, Founder/Director of Refugee Women in Development, Member of the Rome delegation to the Bonn negotiations. Based in Washington, D.C.

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 4-5, 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. (Complete declaration is attached).

After Washington, the delegates will visit New York City, December 16-20, where they will meet with the United Nations Security Council and other key political, media and cultural figures.

December 14, 2001 - 13:00