It is impossible not to have been affected by the stories, news and images coming out of Afghanistan over the last few weeks. The Afghan people, including many women and girls, clearly are fearful of what is to come. Already there are credible reports of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law coming out of Afghanistan.
“A fundamental red line will be the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, and respect for their rights to liberty, freedom of movement, education, self-expression and employment, guided by international human rights norms. In particular, ensuring access to quality secondary education for girls will be an essential indicator of commitment to human rights.” – Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
As an organisation, Soroptimist International believes in gender equality, human rights, and peace –– with these causes in mind, it is impossible to stand by and watch women and girls face such significant challenges. Many people want to do something to help but feel powerless to do so. To help empower you to act, Soroptimist International is sharing five ideas of things you can do to support Afghan women and girls, whether they be refugees or still in Afghanistan.
Five Ways You Can Help
1. Learn more about the crisis taking place
With the Afghan war lasting 20 years, people in Afghanistan have long lived with conflict and are now facing drought, COVID-19 and other challenges. To help best, we must understand how Afghanistan got to this crisis point, so our responses can be tailored to the needs of Afghans and can prevent future crises.
2. Support organisations working in Afghanistan
Find out about what the United Nations, aid agencies and civil society organisations are doing in Afghanistan. With more than 18 million people in Afghanistan needing humanitarian aid, it is vital to support those still in Afghanistan, as well as refugees.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) provides a good overview of UN action in Afghanistan. You can find out more here. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also shares helpful and informative news updates about what is happening in Afghanistan. You can read some of their news releases here. UNICEF is sharing information about the challenges in providing education in Afghanistan, including the specific challenges facing girls. Find out more here.
3. Stand in solidarity with Afghans
Share Soroptimist International’s Statement and messages of support, and show Afghans are welcome in your community. Use social media so share your voice and encourage others to do the same.
4. Get active in your community
Volunteer to help Afghans arriving in your country. You can support your local donation centre by collecting essentials like clothes, shoes, sanitary products, phones, and toys. You could donate your skills as well by helping people find homes, start school, learn a new language and more.
5. Contact your Government representative
Governments can decide how many Afghan refugees they accept, how they will respond to the current crisis in Afghanistan, and whether they will contribute to the international humanitarian effort. If you want your government to do more, tell them! Afghan women and girls are in particular danger, and governments can act to reduce that danger.
To support you in contacting your government representative, SI has created a Letter Template that you can download and edit.
Soroptimists are experts in grassroots action and in supporting women and girls. As you take action in your community, tag SI on Twitter (@SoroptiTweet), Facebook and Instagram (@SoroptimistGlobal). You could help inspire future action by sharing stories and information of what you are doing in your community.
Since its creation, Soroptimist International has worked to achieve gender equality and to combat human rights abuses. Now it is time to harness years of Soroptimist experience to support the women and girls of Afghanistan, as well as women and girls facing similar challenges everywhere, to ensure they are educated, empowered and enabled.
Social Media Resources
Visit the Soroptimist International Trello Board to share social media cards and show your support for women and girls worldwide.