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Afghan Women's Summit Defines the Path for Human Rights and Democracy

12/06/2001

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

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. (Complete declaration is attached).

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.

Contacts:

European Media:

Cecile Greboval, European Women's Lobby

+32 2 217 90 20, greboval@womenlobby.org

U.S. Media:

Susan Celia Swan, V-Day

+ 1 917 865 6603, + 1 212 445 3288, press@vday.org

Millicent White, Ruder Finn

+ 1 212 593 6353, whitem@ruderfinn.com