Showing posts with label women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women. Show all posts

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Women in the Afghan Security Forces

The Afghan National Army (ANA) has had trouble meeting the expectations of the international community in recruiting women into its ranks. The donor nations of the world providing money to the Afghan government and Afghan security institutions want to see the inclusion of women in the army and police ranks. However, Afghanistan is not a country culturally receptive to women's rights and there is great resistance among the senior leaders of the army and police to including women in significant numbers. The goal of the international community is to see as many as 5,000 women in the Afghan army yet thus far there are less than 900 women soldiers. Read more in "Women in Afghan army overcome opposition, threats", Reuters, November 4, 2016.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Women in Afghanistan

International Women's Day. The world recognized the annual International Women's Day this past week. All the major players provided news releases on the progress and obstacles in advancing women's rights.

CSTC-A and Women. The Combined Security Transition Command j- Afghanistan (CSTC-A) recently celebrated International Women's Day. A keynote speaker (see photo above) was Maj. Gen. Gordon "Skip" Davis, Jr. Every photo I ever see of this guy has him smiling! There is something seriously wrong here. Doesn't he know that he has three very good reasons not to be so jolly? 1) He lives and works on that small postage stamp of real estate in Kabul known as Camp Resolute Support, 2) he is in a war zone, and 3) he is tasked with training up the ANA and ANP. Hmmmm. Read more in a news press release by DVIDS, March 9, 2016.

AAF and Women. The Afghan Air Force hosted an International Women's Day conference on March 6th at the Kabul Air Wing. Approximately 200 AAF and Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) military men and women attended the event to include guest speakers from the AAF commander to a young Afghan girl reading poetry. (DVIDS, Mar 8, 2016).

Role of Afghan Women. Laura Bush (former 1st Lady) is an honorary co-chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and chair of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She has penned an opinion piece about women in Afghanistan where she explores the progress made for women in Afghanistan over the past 15 years and identifies the areas that still need further advances. Read "How Afghanistan's women are helping the country move forward", The Washington Post, March 7, 2016.

Book - We Are Afghan Women. The George W. Bush Presidential Center is publishing a book about Afghan women. The book is being released . . . timed with International Women's Day. "The book spotlights the stories of 29 inspiring and heroic Afghan women in their own voices and records their extraordinary struggles, resolve, and will to triumph in present-day Afghanistan." Read more about We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope.

Former Female Afghan War Vets Import Saffron. Members of the Harvard University community who are also veterans of the Afghan conflict have been importing saffron from Afghanistan. They operate a firm called Rumi Spice. The founders of the firm are a unique group of people - male, female, route clearance, Cultural Support Team, etc. Read more in "Veterans behind Rumi Spice source saffron directly from Afghan farmers", Food Navigator, March 9, 2016.

Court Reduces Sentences in Mob Killing of Farkhunda. Four men sentenced to death for the killing of a woman named Farkhunda (which received widespread international attention) have had their sentences reduced to as little as ten years in prison. (The New York Times, Mar 9, 2016).

Short Film - Masculinity in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) conducted some research titled The Other Side of Gender Inequality: Men and Masculinities in Afghanistan. A film based on this research was filmed. It has English subtitles and is 20 minutes long, and posted on on March 9, 2016. A little bit of culture about being a man and a women in Afghan society.

IDLG Wants More Women in Govt. The Independent Directorate of Local Governance has called for a stronger presence of women in local governance across Afghanistan. (Tolo News, Mar 7, 2016).

Radio Shaesta - Back on the Air. An Afghan women's radio station was put off the air as a result of the Taliban attack and subsequent occupation of the Kunduz city this past fall. The radio station was ransacked and the broadcasting equipment was confiscated or destroyed. But . . . they are back up and running. Read "Afghan Women's Radio Returns After Taliban Attack", Voice of America, March 8, 2016.

Women Reporters in Afghanistan. There are some difficulties and cultural barriers that women journalists face when reporting from Afghanistan. Read the story of two women reporters that were in northern Afghanistan in late 2001 in "No Woman's Land: On the Frontline with Female Reporters", International News Safety Institute, March 7, 2016.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Peace Talks

January 11th Peace Talks. Multi-state peace talks including the nations of China, U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan are scheduled for January 11th. A second round of talks, not yet scheduled, will be held in Kabul. The participation of China and the United States is consider key by many observers - with hopes that the two nations can keep the talks on track. The representatives of the four nations will meet in Islamabad, Pakistan to revive peace negotiations that stalled in July after the disclosure of the death of the Afghan Taliban leader - Mullah Omar.

Iran & Peace Talks. It is being reported that Iran officials want to have full presence and direct participation in the Afghanistan peace talks process. There is no indication that the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China are having any of that.

Pakistan's Role? Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, examines Pakistan's role in the never-ending quest to get peace talks established between the Afghan government and the Taliban. She paints a disquieting picture. Afghanistan After America's War, December 2016.

Winter Surge - Taliban Seeking Upper Hand? One commentator believes that the unprecedented winter surge of 2015-2016 by the Taliban points to a desire for an upper hand in peace talks. Read "Afghan Taliban seek leverage in dangerous winter surge", The Times of India, January 6, 2016.

Include Women in Peace Talks? The Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization has come out strongly endorsing the participation of women in the upcoming peace talks scheduled for January 11th. Afghan women and international observers are fearful that the government (and international players) will trade away women's rights as a concession to the Taliban. Read more in "Afghanistan: Include Women in New Peace Talks", Human Rights Watch, January 4, 2016.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) and Women in Combat

The ban on prohibiting women in combat roles is set to expire in January 2016. Many supporters of fully integrating women in combat roles point to the success of the Cultural Support Teams (CST) utilized by Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Afghanistan. Most were attached to SOF teams conducting Village Stability Operations (VSO) while some were attached to SOF teams conducting night raids. After all, if these small teams of women successfully worked with SOF in combat then why not with conventional armor, artillery, and infantry units? However, using the CSTs in Afghanistan as proof that women should be fully integrating into all combat roles ignores the true role of CSTs to SOF. Their assessment, selection, and training was different and limited (although still tough) and their role was limited as compared to their male SOF colleagues. A  paper by T. Nageen Pegahi provides more light on the topic. Pegahi served as strategic advisor and analyst to Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) from 2013 to 2014. Currently she an assistant professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College. Read "Curb Your Enthusiasm / Skepticism Over Women in SOF", Small Wars Journal, September 22, 2015.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Afghan Women

Peace through Education? A Boston-based filmmaker, Beth Murphy, describes her project to film a project about girls education in Afghanistan and remarks on the security situation in Kabul. Read "Ominous Signs en Route to a Unique School for Girls in Afghanistan", The Huffington Post, September 1, 2015.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UNAMA - Reforms Needed for Afghan Women

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in conjunction with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) has issued a report saying that reforms are needed to ensure women are protected in Afghanistan. The report says that access to justice for women victims of violence needs to be strengthened. It says that while there is a legal framework in place for such cases, there remain many factors hindering access to justice. The report identifies the factors that enable hindering the legal framework. The report provides several recommendations to improve the justice process for women. In the report historical cases are reviewed for how justice was achieved - in one study it was found that less than 5% of the cases brought before adjudication were resolved with punishment for the perpetrators.

UNAMA Press Release:
Reforms needed to ensure justice for women victims of violence, UNAMA, April 15, 2015.

UNAMA Report:
Justice Through the Eyes of Afghan Women: Cases of Violence against Women Addressed through Mediation and Court Adjudication, UNAMA, April 15,  2015.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Webcast - "Advancing Gender Equality" (20 April, 2015)

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) will be hosting a panel discussion on "Advancing Global Gender Equality" on Monday, April 20, 2015. The event will take place at CSIS in Washington, D.C. but can also be viewed online as well. The panel is moderated and hosted by Bob Schieffer (Chief Washington Correspondent for CBS News) and panelists include Catherine Russel (Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State), Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Director, U.S. Peace Corps), and Dr. Sarah E. Mendelson (Senior Advisor and Director, CSIS Human Rights Initiative).

Monday, April 20, 2015, 4:45 PM - 6:30 PM. Register for webcast online at link below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CSIS Gender Equality Webcast (Apr 20, 2015)

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) will be hosting a panel discussion on "Advancing Global Gender Equality" on Monday, April 20, 2015. The event will take place at CSIS in Washington, D.C. but can also be viewed online as well. The panel is moderated and hosted by Bob Schieffer (Chief Washington Correspondent for CBS News) and panelists include Catherine Russel (Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State), Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Director, U.S. Peace Corps), and Dr. Sarah E. Mendelson (Senior Advisor and Director, CSIS Human Rights Initiative). I am certain that the webcast will touch on gender issues in Afghanistan (how could they not?).

Monday, April 20, 2015, 4:45 PM - 6:30 PM EST. Register for webcast online at link below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Report - Structural Roots of Women's Problems

The Afghanistan Human Rights & Democracy Organization (AHRDO) has published a report entitled Women in the Eyes of Men: Tackling the structural roots of women's problems in Afghanistan. It was published in February 2015. This 31-page report presents the current situation of women in Afghanistan, discusses key findings in the report, and offers 19 recommendations to improve their situation. The report is posted on the website of the Peace Keeping & Stability Operations Institute of the U.S. Army at the link below:
"Women in the Eyes of Men"

Sunday, March 15, 2015

New Directive - Women in Army SOF

A new personnel directive, DA Directive 2015-08, signed by the U.S. Army directs more than 4,100 'enabler' positions to be open to women in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). Some of the open positions include Special Forces battalions and tactical psychological teams. There are more than 1,000 women currently assigned to USASOC. The directive does not open up positions closed to women in the Army in general; rather, it opens up positions in USASOC that are otherwise open to women across the Army as a whole. This directive does not put women into the Special Forces units as operators; but as staff, support, and 'enablers' at battalion level. They are not going to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). If assigned to a Special Forces unit they will wear the SF patch with the Airborne tab; but not the SF tab. Women have been serving in Civil Affairs and MISO units for nearly 20 years. Read more in "Directive opens 4,100 special ops positions to women", March 13, 2015.

Monday, March 9, 2015

International Women's Day (Mar 8, 2015)

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 was celebrated around the world as International Women's Day (IWD). Afghanistan had its share of speeches and events as well. Various commentators provided us insight on these speeches, events, and the general situation of women in Afghanistan. Below are some of the dispatches that recently hit the Internet world.

The 2015 International Women of Courage Award Ceremony took place on March 6, 2015.  Every year women from across the globe are recognized by the Department of State. The ceremony was hosted by the Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom and Ambassador Catherine Russell at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. An Afghan female Air Force pilot, Captain Nilofar Rahmani, was one of eight international women recognized. She is awarded the presentation at the 11:00 minute mark of the video. (posted on by Department of State, videos is 30 minutes long).

AAN -  Less Speeches and More Action on IWD. "One Day in a Year: Afghan views on International Women's Day", by Naheed Esar Malikzay of Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), March 8, 2015. The writer would like to see less speeches and more action. Also provides a history of the origins of International Women's Day and comments on the current situation of women in Afghanistan.

Lela Gilbert writing for Fox News provides us with a short history of IWD and sums up the status of women in the Islamic world. Read "International Women's Day: Celebrating and remembering", Fox News, March 8, 2015.

National Action Plan. Elizabeth Weingarten and Lella Hilal write in The Weekly Wonk about women in Afghanistan and the United Nation's National Action Plan (NAP). See "Women and Men in Afghanistan Are Taking Action for Peace".

USAID News Report. Joanne Lewa worked on a six-month temporary assignment in Afghanistan for USAID. She writes women's leadership, women in the economy and politics, and education and health for women in Afghanistan. See "From Kenya to Kabul: Women as Decision-Makers, Entrepeneurs, and Leaders", USAID, March 6, 2015.

NATO Channel posted a short video on celebrating women International Women's Day by highlighting the essential role of women in defence and security from high level decision making to serving in the armed forces. Nice pictures and music compressed into 42 seconds published on March 7, 2015. Some text put on screen.

EU Factsheet on Promoting Afghan Women Leaders. The European Union lists accomplishments made thus far for Afghan women but notes that more work needs to be done and Afghan women will need continued support and advocacy. The EU has announced new initiatives to specifically focus on offering training opportunities to Afghan women.

IFEX has published a news article entitled "How Afghanistan's female journalists are covering the stories no one else can" (March 6, 2015).

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) has posted comments by Shahla Farid, a law lecturer at Kabul University about IWD. (March 2015).

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 8th - International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women's Day. Things have improved dramatically for women in Afghanistan. Women are members of parliament, they now have access to education, there are many more medical clinics, and there are possibilities that a few women may be appointed to cabinet positions. The country's First Lady, Rula Ghani, is taking a very visible role promoting the cause of Afghan women. While great progress has been made for women in Afghanistan much more work needs to be done. In recognition of this special day Afghan War News presents some informational resources and stories about women in Afghanistan.

Informational Resources about Women in Afghanistan

Afghan War News Resource Page on Women in Afghanistan

NATO Article - "Women's Struggle"

Recent News Stories about Women in Afghanistan

"Nilofar Rahmani receives International Women of Courage award 2015". 2nd Lieutenant Rahmani, a female pilot in the Afghan Air Force, has received an award from First Lady Michelle Obama. Read more in a Khaama Press news article on March 7, 2015.

"Female ALP Commander Helps ANA in Helmand Operation", Tolo News, March 6, 2015. The Sistani village in Marja district in southern Helmand has been cleared of militants with the help of a female Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander as part of the "Zulfiqar" operation. Read news article here.

A report by the GSMA organization advances the argument that providing more access to mobile communications to women of developing nations will improve their lot in society. They have published a report that says as much - entitled "Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low- and middle-income nations". See the report at the link below.

An Australian news article profiles Australian Army Colonel Amanda Fielding who attended the graduation of close to 200 Afghan female policewomen from the International Police Training Academy in Sivas, Turkey. The class is only the second group of Afghan females to graduate from the academy and this brings the total number of females in the Afghan Woman's Police Corps of the Afghan National Police to over 3,000.

Gender Equality - USAID Online Training

For those who feel that they are lacking in gender equality awareness (and in the spirit of today being International Women's Day) we refer you to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)  online course - "Gender 101: Gender Equality at USAID". Successful completion of the course fulfills the USAID requirements for employees in gender equality awareness. An overall score of 85% is required to be "Gender Aware"! The online course takes about 90 minutes to complete. Nope. Didn't do it, but maybe you need some gender awareness! Take the plunge at the link below:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rula Ghani in the Spotlight

Rula Ghani, the wife of President Ghani and Afghanistan's First Lady, has been stepping out into the spotlight recently. In February she conducted a trip to the United States where she conducted a number of interviews in the Washington, D.C. area. During these interviews she provided her perspective on a number of concerns and issues facing Afghanistan. She plans of taking a leading role in some aspects of Afghan life (women's rights, orphaned children, internally displaced people, education, etc.). She has some views on humanitarian aid - saying that it should be provided in a different form than it is currently given. Some aid is temporary but good aid helps people provide for themselves. She presents her take on being a Lebanese Maronite Christian in Muslim Afghanistan - saying it is not a problem for her. Read more in "For the First Time, An Afghan First Lady Steps into the Spotlight", National Public Radio, February 19, 2015.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Women's Shelters in Afghanistan

One of the most provocative legacies of the Western presence in Afghanistan has been the funding and establishment of women's shelters. The idea that women can go to a shelter is very alien in Afghanistan. Read more in "A Thin Line of Defense Against 'Honor Killings'", by Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times, March 2, 2015.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Women in ANSF - Western Values Imposed

One diplomat says "It's the absurdity of  imposing our liberal Western beliefs" when describing the insistence of ANSF recruitment of women into the security forces. Afghanistan is a culturally conservative country and some say that women's rights might have been an issue too far when transforming Afghanistan. Read more in "Afghan Policewomen Struggle Against Culture", The New York Times, March 2, 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Women on Front Lines - "A Politically-Correct Mistake"

Some British military figures have condemned the move to allow women to fight on the front line as a "politically-correct mistake". Some question whether women have the 'killer instinct' and others point out that 99% of women lack the upper body strength to pass the physical fitness tests that males must successfully pass. Read more in a news article in The Independent (Dec 19, 2014).

Friday, December 19, 2014

SIGAR Report on Afghan Women

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a report entitled Afghan Women:  Comprehensive Assessments Needed to Determine and Measure DOD, State, and USAID Progress, SIGAR 15-24 Audit Report, December 2014. The report states that there is no comprehensive assessment available to confirm that gains have been made in the status of women as a direct result of U.S. efforts. Together, DoD, State, and USAID spent over $64 million on over 650 projects, programs, and initiatives to support Afghan women from 2011 to 2013. SIGAR found there is a lack of accountability in the programs because none of the three agencies (DOD, State, and USAID) have effective mechanisms for tracking the funding associated with the women's projects. The report contains a number of recommendations on the way forward. Read the report at the link below:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Uphill Battle for Female Aid Workers

This article (Dec 15, 2014) provided by IRIN - a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - describes the obstacles that women have while employed by humanitarian organizations working in Afghanistan. Read "Afghanistan: Uphill struggle for female aid workers".

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Video - Women on Bikes

Women do not usually ride bicycles in Afghanistan. However, a small women's group is changing that. The meet once a week to ride bikes in a group. Watch a video about this at "Afghan women's two-wheel revolution", NATO Channel TV, December 4, 2014.