The event was really good – and I think it is a good idea for a charity to connect with supporters this way! After the introduction, we have learned about the importance of women’s rights (raising confidence, helping with care – family, house ho, looking at culture – the most significant barrier due to the lack of rights, lack of understanding). ActionAidUK’s experience is to put the women and girls first – not excluding men, but recognising that the poorest of the poor are women. The organisation is supporting women to achieve the change for themselves, their family, community and their country. Gaining confidence and support from organisations working with women rights is crucial – so ActionAidUK is also helping to build those women movements. We have learned about Asha Singh, 37, heroine, activist working with the organisation in India, a lawyer by training, riding a bike to persuade people to value women as much as men. As she was talking to parents, boys and girls, she has become a role model for girls in the area. Later we moved on to women issues in Afghanistan. We watched a video in which Nasima Rahmani, a local worker stated that when she goes to communities to talk to women “men think we are empowering women against them”. Well, I guess it is a fact. ActionAid has also a paralegal programme – teaching women with strong leadership skills to help victims of violence. What I missed in the film though were…men. I would love to hear their voices, see their faces and learn their points of view as well as see how ActionAid works with men on the topic. (I also noticed that the event we attended was dominated by women – does it mean that mainly women supporters are interested in the topic of women rights? is it fair to say that is it only half of the story then?) What is the future according to ActionAidUK then? Women need to be educated, financially undefended and have their rights. To know “why is this happening to me?”
Next speaker, GB Adhikari, Country Director for ActionAid Afghanistan, working in that country since 2003 presented the achievements but also challenges of his work. He spoke about the National Solidarity Program – governmental program, ActionAid people are the people talking about the process. They elect the community people to be in charge of the community development process – and to ensure that 30% of this committee are women, so far 2,500 women were elected already. We were also discussing the marriage issue – forced marriage: approach: marriage> forced marriage> why does it happen seems to work the best. When asked if the war in Afghanistan affect their work, he responded: “Everything is possible to do, you just need to find a method, a way and the timeframe. Go to the community, talk to them, be with them, adopt their practices to become a part of the community, to be trusted.” Sounds like a great advise for everyone, really. We also learned more about the communication channels within the country to handle risk situation and ensure safety of staff too. What I thought of the speaker? I made a note: “What an inspiring, dedicated person!” I was really impressed with the local approach to the training (240 national staff currently as a result of local training programme as opposed to brining lots of expats.) When we talked about ActionAid’s work in the UK Champion for International Violence against Women was mentioned, as well as Cross- Governmental Violence against Women and Girls Strategy and last year’s report on women rights. Patricia Lima, Head of PR at ActionAid talked about GetLippy campaign too. I guess to summarise the evening (I have to disclose that I left before its end!) I would like to quote one of the presenters, who said:
“If we aren’t equal everywhere, we aren’t equal anywhere…”
Big hug to ActionAid and Louise for the invitation! I really liked the event!