Afghan Women Regaining Rightful Role

Politics, Women

Afghan Women Regaining Rightful Role

Afghanistan is still plagued by many recent practices effectively imposed by the Taliban and as consequence of over three decades of conflict. Purported Islamic theology has been a pretext for many practices that are frequently contrary to Islam. It may surprise that Afghanistan is one of the older independent states in the region and had a progressive history regarding the role of women in the previous century, (especially in urban centers). Now, some of the older generation of women are helping the younger to reestablish their and more active role in society, from education to resisting forced marriage.

Suraya Pakzad runs a safe-house for girls who were forced to marry early, and herself now faces threats. Across Afghanistan there are 14 such shelters and almost 50% of the women are under the age of 18. These shelters are also at risk of being effectively closed.


Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts

Suraya Pakzad, Voices of Women Organization:
“They are supported by warlords, by extremists, and they are calling and threatening me on the way that they will kidnap my son, they will kill myself, by doing this or that, my phone - calling me - you know mentally they try to disturb me.”
5. Med shot, women in Australia listening
6. Various shots, Suraya Pakzad speaking to the Australians
7. Med shot, young girls walking out of a room and climbing stairs
8. Various shots, market scenes
11. Various shots, young girls walking into Suraya Pakzad’s office
12. SOUNDBITE (Dari) Farah (not her real name) translated by Suraya (English):
”She said that I don’t know anything. The only things that I’m thinking about is a divorce. And all my mind is busy with that, when and how I should divorce from that man.”
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Suraya Pakzad, Voices of Women Organization:
”Our concern is that if international community doesn’t put pressure on Afghanistan government things will happen, if the shelters have to merge with the ministry and the ministry shuts down then Taliban will be happy.”
15. Med shot, Peter Crowley walking across the frame
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Peter Crowley, Representative, UNICEF Afghanistan:
“I think there is an unstoppable momentum and it’s partly generated by the young women and the older generations of women themselves who are not easily going to surrender what has been achieved and what they’ve gained.”
17. Various shots, young school girls playing volley ball and basketball

STORYLINE:

In Afghanistan, modern slogans promoting women’s rights are on posters and the issue is often given a platform at meetings but in reality, women activists say, they’re treated like stock.

This year some girls and women used 21st century technology to shout out from the rooftops about their struggles and hopes. With UNICEF’s support, Suraya Pakzad, a leading champion of women’s rights, spoke from Herat on a live video-link to young women at the other end of the world in Sydney.

The Australian volunteers were shocked to hear how Suraya’s life was at risk for protecting children from early marriage and abuse.

SOUNDBITE (English) Suraya Pakzad, Voices of Women Organization:
“They are supported by warlords, by extremists, and they are calling and threatening me on the way that they will kidnap my son, they will kill myself, by doing this or that, my phone - calling me - you know mentally they try to disturb me.”

Suraya’s organization runs a shelter for these girls and there are several similar shelters around Afghanistan. Under the Taliban there were no women’s shelters. They have been a safe haven for girls but now shelters are under the spotlight again. It could mean nowhere to hide for girls who have had their childhood stolen like Farah forced to marry at the age of nine. All she could take with her was a small doll she had made and smuggled out but her mother-in-law threw it away.

SOUNDBITE (Dari) Farah (not her real name) translated by Suraya (English):
”She said that I don’t know anything. The only things that I’m thinking about is a divorce. And all my mind is busy with that, when and how I should divorce from that man.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Suraya Pakzad, Voices of Women Organization:
”Our concern is that if international community doesn’t put pressure on Afghanistan government things will happen, if the shelters have to merge with the ministry and the ministry shuts down then Taliban will be happy. “

Some however believe there is no going back.

SOUNDBITE (English) Peter Crowley, Representative UNICEF Afghanistan:
“I think there is an unstoppable momentum and it’s partly generated by the young women and the older generations of women themselves who are not easily going to surrender what has been achieved and what they’ve gained.”

Girls and women here are on both sides of the fence between traditional and modern values, but education of girls has taken a great leap forward in Afghanistan and these feisty fit players are determined not to let go of their goals at least.


Details

Language: English

Year of Production: 2011

Length: 3:30 mins

Country: Afghanistan

Directors:

  • Muhamed Sacirbey, UNTV

Producers:

  • Susan Sacirbey