Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan.ca) just completed their annual conference in British Columbia. The three-day long conference was packed with inspiring speakers and workshops. During the event, CW4WAfghan launched their new project called Gender Equity in Teacher Training to Improve Girls’ Education in Afghanistan (GETT). This $1.3 million project will train women teachers.
Canadian women emphasized the importance of Afghan women’s participation in Afghanistan’s peace process. Participants learned how to better support Afghan women and share their voice with community and Canadian government. Marzia Nawrozi, Feminist Majority Foundation staff member and Afghan women’s rights advocate, participated in the conference. She described FMF’s outreach to the Afghan Women Network in Afghanistan, and to members of Congress, as well as FMF’s work to continue U.S. support for the inclusion of Afghan women and Afghan government in the peace process.
Among the speakers was Shakila Zareen, a survivor of domestic and sexual violence. Now a women’s rights activist and fighter against child marriage and domestic violence, Shakila was born and raised in Afghanistan. At the age of 17, she was forced to marry her first cousin who repeatedly abused and sexually assaulted her. When Shakila refused to be abused anymore, her husband shot her in the face. Shakila has undergone 10 reconstructive surgeries. While sharing her story to the audience, Shakila said that she is not going to be silent and she will use her voice to lift up other women and give them the strength and courage to speak up. As she stated: “I was strong then because I always fought back and I always stood up for myself. But I’m stronger now… I’m not going to be silent.”
Founded in 1998 with volunteer chapters across Canada, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is a member-based non-profit organization. Their goals are to advance education and educational opportunities for Afghan women and their families, and to educate Canadians about human rights in Afghanistan. Their current project portfolio includes schools and school equipment, teacher training, educational resources, literacy classes and libraries in eight provinces.