"How can the woman of Afghanistan help their own country out of this crisis if they are treated like prisoners who face violence and even death when they leave their homes?"
Hafiza - Member of the ACAA Women's Empowerment Group
ACAA Group Director
ACAA supports Afghans and Central Asian facing life’s greatest challenges. The women who make up the ACAA community are powerful ambassadors against inequality and unfairness. They stand for resilience and singular strength during a crisis that has engulfed their homeland. ACAA offers a haven where they can thrive through friendship and collaboration.
WARNING: this conversation contains content that some readers may find distressing
Few dates are more important to women the world over than March 8th.
It is the red-letter day designed to celebrate the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women. Inspired by the original Suffragettes of the early 20th century, no date means more to mainstream feminists who want to
remain in the forefront of public consciousness.
Perhaps no group has been tested under fire more – literally and figuratively – than the Afghan women who, having survived the challenges of various
occupying forces finally faced the ultimate repression from the Taliban who took over after the fall of Kabul in August 2021.
Their resilience has been the subject of much discussion, but it is their own voice that is the truest testimony of their courage. So, this year the
Afghanistan and Central Asian Association decided to organize a mini-summit at the House of Commons to allow these women to take center stage.
“I wanted to do something that would be a tribute to all the women who now must sacrifice their lives living under the Taliban. They face discrimination which is a breach of human rights. It is remarkable that in the 20 th century western governments have not done enough to push for the democratic rights of women in Afghanistan.”
Linda Duberley - ACAA’s Director of Women’s Empowerment
“I was separated from my husband and children at Kabul airport. I arrived in the UK alone and I was so sad I could not even wash my own face. Now I feel my confidence is growing and I can have hope. I will be with my family again. Where there is life there is hope.”
Latifa - Member of the ACAA Women's Empowerment Group
“I have experienced some terrible challenges in my life. But I have always been proud of being a woman. No matter what happens I hold on to the belief that my life is worth something. No one can dismiss me because I am a woman – that is because I do not dismiss myself.”
Zenat - Member of the ACAA Women's Empowerment Group
Nine women from the ACAA presented a tribute after the discussion. Dressed in purple Afghan heritage dresses, the colour of IWD, they carried placards with the nine words that delivered a universal message to the audience – women of Afghanistan want equality, freedom, education, justice, peace. More than one hundred people packed the event including Afghan women from the ACAA HQ and other parts of the UK, politicians, journalists and commentators packed into the Attlee Suite at Portcullis House for the event which was sponsored by the MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, Sarah Olney MP.
The meeting was well received by MPs of all parties who regarded it as a highly constructive meeting held at a time of rapidly increasing concern over the mass movement of people across Europe. Besides the 15,000 people evacuated from Kabul last summer, many more are expected as the UK government releases visa restrictions on those fleeing Ukraine.