New feature: A day-by-day struggle

From the struggle to keep domestic violence shelters open to the machinations of which mullah to align with, a discussion with four Afghan politicians reveals the challenges women face. Helen G reports

Four Afghan women met in London this International Women’s Day to talk with UK women’s rights campaigners about their achievements and day-to-day challenges.

Their achievements are many: the group assembled by ActionAid UK was made up of the only female governor in Afghanistan, Habiba Sarobi, two parliamentarians who sit in Kabul’s National Assembly, Shinkai Karokhail and Elay Ershad, and Asila Wardak director of human rights and gender in the Afghan government.

The discussion at ActionAid’s well-appointed headquarters in a quiet London side-street was wide-ranging and informative. The Afghan women’s answers revealed the numerous difficulties facing women in the republic, but overwhelmingly the daily struggle for many women is simply survival in the face of extreme poverty, domestic violence, discrimination and the lack of education. As Habiba Sarobi pointed out, for the overwhelming majority of Afghan women, the focus on just getting through the day often leaves no time for consideration of wider issues.

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