The Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) is an umbrella organization of approximately 84 NGO members and 5000 individual members who are committed to supporting Afghan women. AWN is a member of the International Network for Peace, which grew out of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows’ International Conference held in 2006. General Director Afifa Azim represented AWN at that conference.
AWN has three major areas of work:
1. Networking and Coordination: AWN’s Networking Department struggles to develop and maintain contacts and nation-wide connections with a variety of key governmental, non-governmental, international and UN agencies to share experiences, coordinate actions, exchange opinions, explore funding opportunities, identify sources of technical expertise and enlarge the network of women activists and advocates.
2. Advocacy and Lobbying: AWN represents and promotes the needs of the Afghan women in political and social arenas through its Advocacy and Lobbying Department. AWN, as the voice of the Afghan women, pressurizes the leaders of Afghanistan for legislative reforms to protect and promote women’s rights and concerns.
3. Capacity Building: AWN focuses on building the capacity of Afghan women so that they are able to take an active part in improving their lives, play a role in rehabilitating their country and, in the long run, revive state institutions. AWN provides capacity building opportunities to its members and to the government via the provision of technical assistance, awareness raising, exposure visits/travel, and in-country training programs.
Advocacy and campaigns include:
AWN has called for NATO to create a gender policy for their provincial reconstruction teams so that they will be more effective. Read the report produced by AWN and AP Peace Fellow Audrey Roberts titled ‘Operationalizing Gender in Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan’ that details this proposal and outlines AWN’s recommendations.
AWN has called on the Afghan government and the international community to take 13 steps to improve security and protect women. (Afghan Women Denounce ‘Un-Islamic’ Attacks Against Women and Launch 13-Point Plan to Improve Security in Afghanistan)
AWN has criticized a proposal to re-establish the department of vice and virtue, and argued that existing ministries should deal with anti-social behavior. An AWN statement said the re-creation of the department would “hinder social development and the freedom of expression, impede the rights of mobility and privacy and, ultimately, stop the continued development of women.” (Women Advocates Oppose Re-Establishment of Afghan Vice and Virtue Department)
The Afghan Women’s Independent Advocacy Commission (AWIAC) was formed on August 8, 2005 in Kabul to ensure equal representation of women engaged in the political process. AWN was key in facilitating the group‘s formation. (New Advocacy Group Empowers Women Election Candidates in Afghanistan)
In a major push to improve the rights of Afghan women, AWN has called for sweeping changes in the Afghan Constitution that would permit Afghan women free health care in all maternal health facilities as well as equal rights in all aspects of divorce and the custody of children. (Afghan Women’s Network Calls for Sweeping Constitutional Changes to Improve Women’s Rights and Unveils New Website)
AWN launched a major campaign to protest against the growing tide of violence in the country and to demand more resources for reconstruction as NATO arrived to take over international peacekeeping in Afghanistan. (Afghan Women Call for Security as Violence Surges)
30 students graduated in March 2004 from AWN’s journalist-in-training program. 143 women have graduated from the program since it was initiated in 2003 under the direction of AP consultant, Mary Moore. Most of the program’s women had no opportunity for higher education elsewhere. (The Afghan Women’s Network Calls For Urgency in Registering Women Voters, Receives $25,000 For AWN Registration)
In 2003, AWN secured the release of four Afghan women refugees who were jailed after being falsely accused of bigamy. AWN has also arranged for the release of 18 Afghan children who were jailed with their parents because they had nowhere else to live. (Afghan Women’s Network Frees Jailed Women as Afghan Constitution Promises Respect for Women’s Rights)
Kabul Office (Main Office)
Main Street, Tahmani Watt
(Between 8 &9)