In early 2001, the V-Day Spotlight on Afghan Women was launched to raise funds and awareness for the women in Afghanistan who had no civil or human rights under the Taliban at that time. That Spotlight evolved into a campaign, “Afghanistan Is Everywhere,” which focused on Afghan women with the broader intention to unite women worldwide by pointing out the similarities between the experiences of the women of Afghanistan and those of women and girls in other areas of the world. The Spotlight raised over $250,000 for the women of Afghanistan, opening schools and orphanages and providing education and healthcare.
V-Day has a long-standing commitment to the women of Afghanistan. In 1999, V (formerly Eve Ensler) and V-Day co-founder Willa Shalit traveled with women inside Afghanistan, visiting secret schools for girls and meeting with women working to keep hope alive within their country.
Our work with Afghan women accelerated in 2002. V-Day and Equality Now, with Afghan leader Sima Wali, began planning for the Afghan Women’s Summit for Democracy on September 22nd, 2001. This was an immediate response to an unforeseen crisis and opportunity.
On December 4-6, 2001, fifty Afghan women leaders gathered at the European Commission in Brussels to discuss the future of their country. They were joined and supported by leaders of several western women’s organizations and the UN. The delegates later met with officials from the European Parliament, the United Nations, and the United States Senate and State Department. The Afghan Women’s Summit brought the voices of Afghan women into the current international political discourse.
To continue building with the women of the summit, V-Day held roundtable discussions in Kabul for two days in March 2002. We expected forty participants, and ended up with eighty-four women from around the country, including lawyers, judges, doctors, teachers, professors, NGO workers, and professionals.
In 2002, V-Day bought thirteen satellite phones for women’s groups, to create an infrastructure for continued communication among the women and organizations.