Women and Peace in Afghanistan: What Canadians Can Do Now

Watch the recording of our webinar “Women and Peace in Afghanistan: What Canadians Can Do Now
Please find our leaflet and more resources on our “Afghanistan” page.

On August 15, 2021, Kabul fell to the Taliban and life in Afghanistan was profoundly changed. While the year has seen less overt war than in the lead up to the US withdrawal, it has been far from peaceful as the Taliban enforces its rule, internal non-state violence continues and the people of Afghanistan face severe restrictions in freedom and extreme economic deprivation.

The legacy of decades of war and current international restrictions have caused WILPF Afghanistan to declare to the UN Human Rights Council, “We Are Not Living, We are Surviving” and to ask where the international community is in the present crisis for the rights of women and girls and for humanitarian support for Afghans, whether within the country or seeking refuge abroad.

The 20-year war waged by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan caused great destruction, death and displacement. Afghanistan needs Western financial assistance from the United States, Canada and other allies to recover and rebuild.

Read WILPF Afghanistan statement “We Are Not Living, We are Surviving
Read our WILPF Canada Flyer “Women and Peace in Afghanistan: What Canadians Can Do
Read “Our disastrous war in Afghanistan” by John Duncan in the Canadian Dimension, July 2021.
WILPF International Country Profile Afghanistan
WILPF 5-page backgrounder “Militarization of Afghanistan

Khatira Daryabi is a WILPF Canada member, an artist and activist for refugee and women’s rights. Born and raised in Afghanistan, she planned weekly biking protests for peace and equality in Kabul and taught many girls to bike and join the mission of women’s employment. She encouraged other girls to do the same, despite threats and traumatic experiences due to her activism. At age 14, she came to Canada alone as a refugee and is now a student at the University of British Columbia Sauder in a dual degree with a full scholarship. She continues advocating for women and refugee rights through her art, public speaking, and running projects. Learn about her story by watching her TEDx Talk “Educating girls and breaking barriers is what Afghan women do.”

Sorya Karimi is a women’s rights advocate who organized several demonstrations after the occupation of Kabul by the Taliban. The last demonstration she led was met by violence when the Taliban turned against journalists covering the protest, took them away and tortured them. Photos were taken of her and others who participated in these protests. After the last demonstration, the Taliban sought out her and her family, going to her neighbourhood and asking people if they knew her while holding her photo with her name printed on it. A local leader denied recognizing her and advised her to move for her safety. Sorya Karimi and her family went into hiding. As an organizer of the protests, she was interviewed by a feminist media/newspaper based in the UK. Read her interview “I fought so hard for my rights.”

Corey Levine is a human rights and peacebuilding advocate, researcher and writer with a specialization in gender. She has spent more than 25 years working in conflict areas, and has worked with both non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, including UNHCR and Amnesty International. In March 2002, she travelled to Afghanistan in order to determine Canada’s peacebuilding support in the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban. This began an almost 20-year engagement with the country. Corey’s last posting to Afghanistan was from November 2020 to June 2021, where she worked with women parliamentarians. Corey returned from a brief trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan in June.

Ellen Judd is a Canadian anthropologist and a member of WILPF Canada.  She served as chair/co-chair of the Afghanistan Committee of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows for ten years, 2012-2021. She has long worked for nonviolence and social justice, in support of Afghan peace activists and, most recently, for the return of frozen Afghanistan assets to the people of Afghanistan. Read Ellen’s letter to the Toronto Star “As a Canadian 9/11 widow, I urge Biden to repatriate Afghan funds.”