Rahela Sidiqi is raising funds on behalf of Afghan women and girls
via the Governance & Reform Advisory (GRA), UK
I come to you with an urgent appeal to help secure the safety of 300 Afghan women and young girls (with their families consisting of 5-6 members on average) who are now at grave risk.
As an Afghan woman I have lived and worked in Afghanistan for over three decades in various capacities alongside countless brave and inspirational women. Their extraordinary ambition and determination has elevated the position of women from subservience to policy influencers at the national level.
BUT NOW I am witnessing a shocking reversal of all the achievements since 2001 in Afghanistan and violence against them of horrific proportions. This is neither tolerable nor acceptable.
The calamity that is rapidly unfolding in Afghanistan is devastating and its burden falls most acutely on its women and girls. Violence against women is escalating with reports of gruesome abuses against them in province after province. A door-to-door hunt has started and several women activists and those that have worked in prominent public places are being rounded up, flogged, and even killed for their beliefs, for their freedom of expression, and simply for being educated. Ethnic minority women and widows are among those at highest risk of persecution, rape and being forcibly married as they have no refuge or protection.
Time is quickly running out! These women and girls need to get to safe havens within Afghanistan and move out of the country as soon as possible. They are educated and can, with your help, secure a future for themselves if they are not subjugated or killed. The loss of another generation looms large.
For this reason, I am seeking to raise funds together with my team who are working tirelessly through a network of local organization’s carrying out courageous work in Afghanistan to extend any possible support to reach the most vulnerable Afghan women and young girls. But they cannot go far without sufficient resources.
A large number of women and girls have already been forced to flee their homes, relocating to other provinces or even to other countries out of fear. The humanitarian situation on ground is becoming more desperate with each passing day. Women and children so far make up 80 percent of the quarter of a million Afghans so far forced to flee, as noted by the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
The goal of this campaign is:
First, support 100 of the highest risk Afghan women and girls with their families that need immediate and urgent support i.e. protection, food, shelter, water, sanitation, etc. and evacuation from oppression and imminent risk of harm in the country through mobility grants. This will include widows and their daughters, young women activists and women in journalism or involved in other types of media industry. This group constitute women and girls that do not wish to or do not have the means to relocate to outside of Afghanistan.
Second, to help a further 200 high risk vulnerable Afghan women and girls with their families (a total of 5-6 members per family – around 1000-1200 people in total) to find asylum in other countries and provide them with a minimal assistance for emergency shelter, food, health, water and sanitation support and cash assistance. They also need protection, psychological and mental health support due to the trauma they have witnessed or experienced. This will be for an initial period of three months to give them a start for settlement in a new country.
Inclusion of these extremely vulnerable women’s and girls’ rights must ultimately be at the centre of a global humanitarian response to the current crisis. Meanwhile, this difficult and crucial mission is ONLY possible for those most at risk 300 Afghan women and young girls with their families if we are able to raise $1,850,000 in the initial stages. This is a drop in the ocean, but every dollar donated goes to secure a generation of women and girls survive and give them a chance to build a life. It will cost GRA $500 per family per month to support 100 vulnerable families internally, and $1700 per person to help relocate 200 vulnerable women and girls with their families to a safe country and provide basic necessities for three months.
Hence, I request you to donate generously to the UK-based Governance and Reform Advisory Group (of which I am Founder and CEO), working to support Afghanistan’s most vulnerable women and girls.
GRA will set up a dedicated platform within their website to transparently reflect the impact of your contributions and the difference we have all made together.
Broader Afghanistan Crisis Context
All of this is taking place within a grim COIVD-19 situation in which Afghan people, especially women, girls and children are being pushed to even a more desperate situation. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) states that 1.5 million people were recently deported back from Pakistan and Iran as their own economies suffer due to COVID-19. In addition, the climatic challenge is impacting through droughts, further pushing the Afghan people into greater levels of poverty and food insecurity.
The fleeing and subsequent displacement of Afghan people began in May 2021 upon the announcement of withdrawal of international forces. The UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) indicated 270,000 people had been internally displaced since January 2001 and many have fled seeking political asylum in other countries. IOM indicated the fleeing of 40,000 people every week which has escalated in recent days. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) advised that civilian casualties between January-March 2021 was almost 30 percent higher than the previous year. Unfortunately, it is the women and children who are bearing the brunt by being increasingly targeted.
Afghanistan’s gains on women’s civil and political rights as well as socio-economic and educational rights in the last 20 years are already being dramatically reversed. Not only has violence against them increased, but also women’s education, women’s economic empowerment, women’s mobility, women’s participation in public domain including in the police and armed forces, media and banks and women’s political participation now being controlled and adversely affected.