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Report From V-Day-Sponsored Afghan Women's Leadership Program Released

05/01/2003

Over 75 Afghan women worked together to develop realistic working strategies toward non-violent society, women's leadership and increased political power

May 1, 2003 - As part of its ongoing efforts to support Afghan women, V-Day returned to Afghanistan March 8-11, 2003 to offer an Afghan Women's Leadership Program to women from different grassroots and community based organizations within Afghanistan.

V-Day Special Representative Hibaaq Osman convened the program, in consultation with political advocacy training expert Eleanor LeCain, Afifa Azim, head of the Afghan Women's Network, and V-Day staffer Barbara Wien.

Over 75 Afghan women attended the three-day session in Kabul which focused on building skills in political advocacy and identifying the key challenges for women through listening, supporting and finding ways to amplify the work that the women are already doing on the ground. The training program built on the work that had been started at the Afghan Women's Summit for Democracy (Brussels 2001) and the V-Day Kabul Talks (March 2002).

Osman along with V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler, and Executive Director Jerri Lynn Fields welcomed the group with greetings from women around the world. "You survived and have stamina," stated Osman, "You have everything you need to be leaders. We will not teach you, but work with what you already have. We learn from you, too. This seminar will strengthen our work together for peace and democracy."

Ensler began the conference by asking the women to imagine V-World, a world where they lived free of violence against women and girls. The ensuing discussion was beautiful, moving and hopeful, setting the stage for the program during which the conference attendees spent two days strategizing how Afghanistan could become a country free of violence against women. A key outcome of the conference was the development of working strategies to:

  • Provide education for girls and women
  • Improve women's economic situation
  • Change the negative aspects of culture and tradition
  • Increase awareness of women's rights in the Constitution and Sharia law
  • Increase the political power of women

While in Afghanistan, V-Day made an overall commitment of $120,000 in awards - $60,000 as a direct result of the three day leadership program in Kabul - to groups that will assure women's participation in the construction of the new constitution in Afghanistan, coordinate working women in Afghanistan, involve lawyers in the community, teach music to young girls and provide shelter for orphans and hospital services for refugees.

V-Day's Afghan Women's Leadership program was sponsored by V-Day with support from Mama Cash and the Global Fund For Women.

About V-Day: Inspired by Playwright Eve Ensler's play "The Vagina Monologues," V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day stages large-scale benefits and promotes innovative gatherings and programs (The Afghan Women's Summit, The Stop Rape Contest, Indian Country Project, and more) to change social attitudes towards violence against women. In 2003, more than 1000 V-Day benefit events - produced by local volunteer activists - took place around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls and raising funds for local groups within their communities. In its first year of incorporation (2001), V-Day was named one of Worth Magazine's "100 Best Charities." In its first five years, the V-Day movement has raised over $14 million, with over $7 million raised in 2002 alone. The 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.