The Women’s Regional Network (WRN) hosted a Symposium in 2022, which issued a Call for Action
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 has resulted in spiraling humanitarian and human rights crises, with women, girls and other vulnerable minorities bearing the brunt of the deteriorating situation. The ever-increasing repression of women’s basic rights and freedoms includes exclusion from public space and political participation, and a near total loss of access to jobs, education, and free movement. Afghan women in Canada, and in consultation with women across the globe, have come together to develop Calls to Action as a roadmap for the Government of Canada and its allies. They highlight the most pressing needs and priorities of Afghan women both inside and outside of Afghanistan and identify policy responses which Canada can pursue to ensure their Afghanistan response aligns with their Feminist Foreign Policy and Feminist International Assistance Policy.
On the 26th and 27th of September 2022, Women’s Regional Network in response to the request of Afghan women and with the support of several Canadian women MPs and Senators, hosted a two-day Symposium in Ottawa. The Symposium brought together 75 women leaders from Afghanistan and Canada who interacted with staff from Global Affairs Canada, MPs, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, the United States Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights, the EU’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan. Issues discussed at the symposium included Canada’s Criminal Code and Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan, Obstacles to the Path to Safety, and Canada’s Policy on Unaccompanied Minors.
After extensive dialogue and discussion, the participants of the symposium issued a Call for Action for the government of Canada and the wider international community to support women living under the gender apartheid regime in Afghanistan, and encourage a coordinated global response to this crisis.
Response to the Call to Action
David Sproule, Canada’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, held a hybrid meeting with a small group of Afghan women now resettled in Canada, and with allies from women’s rights organizations.
The Minister of International Development, The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with 8 Afghan and Canadian women leaders and provided an update on the amendment of the Criminal Code.
On International Women’s Day, David Sproule with support of EPD interacted with 50 members of Afghan Women Solidarity Group (AWSG) from 23 provinces of Afghanistan who briefed him with first-hand information about the situation in Afghanistan and recommended greater pressure on the Taliban and more support to Afghan women’s organizations.
On May 11th Senator Ratna Omidvar in collaboration with World Vision hosted a breakfast for 14 Senators to discuss a bill in support of amending the criminal code and the importance of expediting the process. Ms. Nargis Nehan one of the members of the Steering Committee was invited to brief the Senators about the situation of Afghanistan.
On 13th May Special Envoy, David Sproule and Ms. Nargis Nehan facilitated a call between 40 Afghan women leaders and activists from inside and outside Afghanistan with Special Envoys of Australia, Sweden and South Korea and Diplomatic staff of the US, UK, Finland and Netherland to discuss the outcome of Doha Conference and the importance of women participation in such platforms.
Launch of Canada’s Feminist Forum for Afghanistan (CFFA)
To build on the momentum of WRN’s Afghan Symposium, Canada’s Feminist Forum for
Afghanistan (CFFA) seeks to implement the Call for Action. CFFA is a formal platform with
structure facilitating two tracks engagements, 1) to enable Afghanistan-Canadian women’s
engagement with the government of Canada and wider international community, 2) to support the government of Canada and the wider international community, to engage with women and civil society organizations in Canada and Afghanistan and use their perspectives and recommendations to inform policies and strategies towards Afghanistan.
To review progress on implementation of the Call for Action issued at the Symposium and the recommendations contained in the open letters.
To arrange campaigns, webinars, workshops, trainings and advocacy meetings for raising public awareness, engaging influential stakeholders, interacting with policymakers and influencing policies and strategies in support of women of Afghanistan.
To collaborate with and equip civil society actors in Canada’s global cooperation and wider feminist groups with advocacy messages and tools informed by the needs and priorities of Afghan women.
Advocacy and Coordination Committee of CFFA
While CFFA will be led and guided by the Advocacy and Coordination Committee, EPD with support of WRN will perform the role of secretariat providing all administrative, logistic, and programmatic support.
To make a one-time donation to CFFA, please visit the Paypal link donate page of WRN, and thank you in advance for your generous support.
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