Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation
The Afghan Presidential Palace has awarded ten women activists with the Medal of Malalai for their courageous fight for women's rights. Minister of Women's Affairs, Dilbar Nazari, presented the medals to the recipients on behalf of President Ashraf Ghani during a special ceremony to mark the occasion of Afghanistan's 96th Independence Anniversary in Kabul.
Malalai, whom the medal is named after, was born in Maiwand district in southern Kandahar in 1861. She is an Afghan national hero who fought the British troops at the battle of Maiwand on 27 July, 1880 during the second Anglo-Afghan War.
Among these ten women was Liah Jawad, Director of Foundation of Solidarity for Justice (FOSJ), an organisation that advocates on behalf of the victims of war by liaising with and mobilizing the community and meeting with policymakers and stakeholders.
FOSJ is committed to creating a strong network of victims of conflict to raise human rights awareness, and to provide services for those who have had their rights violated. It advocates and lobbies with the Afghan government and participates in media activities to raise the voices and concerns of the war victims on lack of accountability to the past human rights violations in Afghanistan.
In 2013, FOSJ and WLUML joined together through WELDD to lead a training workshop for community members to advocate against child marriage. The workshop was widely successful, with many participants stepping forward for the first time to voice their dissatisfaction on the issue. This project brought together mullahs (Islamic scholars), teachers, social workers, homemakers, and members of the district council. The Ministry of Women Affairs strongly commended the work, and in fact, even requested training for new staff on child and forced marriage, agreeing to monitor cases and update FSOJ Community level actions took the form of discussions, dialogues, outreach, and most importantly, case interventions on child and forced marriage.
More on this exciting workshop can be found here.
Liah Jawad is a WELDD project partner and attended the WELDD workshop in Geneva ‘14, on Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme. She has had a fascinating life history; a child bride in Afghanistan, she migrated to Pakistan in 1989 after completing her BA, seeking refuge from the war with the Mujahideen. She started off as a schoolteacher there, and now, serves as the Executive Director of FOSJ. From ’89 onwards, she served different roles with different organisations, including the Centre for Street Children and Women in Peshawar, Cooperation for Peace and Unity in Kabul, Save the Children in the UK, and the New Afghanistan Women Association (NAWA). She has been the Executive Director of FOSJ since 2008, and is very well-deserving of this medal of national honour.