August 15th saw the collapse of the Afghan government and a return to power by the Taliban. At MMM, like much of the rest of the world, we were shocked at the speed with which change came about.
Uppermost in our thoughts then as now, was the safety of the many women, mothers and girls with whom we launched our campaign #RaiseAPen, to raise awareness of the importance of girls’ education for a sustainable future for Afghanistan. So were our civil society partners, the Rahela Trust for Afghan women’s education, and Mothers for Peace, who for years have been committed to creating opportunities for women in diverse Afghan communities, and with whom we have been working closely on our campaign since 2019.
In the immediate aftermath of the takeover, the Rahela Trust has been offering emergency support, mentorship and morale building to their scholars who now face an uncertain future, and many other young women at risk.
Mothers For Peace (MFP), that has been active in Afghanistan since 2003, initiating many educational, medical, agricultural and production projects, has also acted in support of their committed Afghan partners. In the midst of all the ensuing chaos, whilst courageous Afghan women showed their faces and raised their voices: “Work, education and political participation is every woman’s right”, MFP launched a repatriation program that saw 47 vulnerable Afghan individuals successfully make it to Belgium.
MFP General Manager in Afghanistan, Razia Arefi, a mother of two, was amongst the families that managed to leave Kabul. In the video, she expresses her deepest hope that “Afghan women will not be forgotten” and adds:
“We are someone, not no one”.
As the UN and the EU continue their immediate priority – humanitarian assistance – to stave off a crisis that threatens to affect millions of Afghan people, we at MMM carry on reinforcing our stand with Afghan mothers and girls, united in their determination to preserve their rights to education and the democratic gains of the last 20 years.
In our advocacy work, we will pursue along the same lines as we did before the Taliban took over, building on the same and probably only leverage that the international community has (see here the European Parliament’s June 2021 Resolution linking future development aid with the rights of Afghan women and girls).