Meena Nanji, Director/Producer of the film View From a Grain of Sand
The situation for the majority of Afghan women is dire. Contrary to popular perception, their situation has not improved since the fall of the Taliban in 2001: indeed, it is equally as bad, or in some areas, even worse than it was back then. Under a 2009 law passed by the Karzai government, women are effectively the property of their husbands or male relatives, who can dictate whether women can work, socialize, go out of the house, get an education. Any woman who tries to forge a path towards independence can be severely punished by beating or even death.
A few facts:
- Every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies during childbirth
- 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate
- 1 in every 3 Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence
- 44 years is the average life expectancy rate for women in Afghanistan
- 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages in Afghanistan
- 30 percent of girls have access to education in Afghanistan
While the 2005 Constitution of Afghanistan does give girls the right to an education, in effect, girls remain largely without schooling. This is due to the lack of safety for many girls: with violence in Afghanistan at its worst levels since the overthrow of the Taliban, girls may be kidnapped or raped on the way to school or in school. Teachers, both male and female, who teach at girls’ schools are routinely killed, and hundreds of girls schools have closed their doors as a result. Additionally, because many under-age girls are married off by their families (in violation of the Constitution which delineates 16 as the earliest age of marriage), and married females are not allowed in school, many girls miss out on education.
By encouraging and actively supporting the education of Afghan women, Help Women Heal is performing a vital task in helping better the lives and condition of Afghan women.
Raising awareness is in itself essential; raising scholarship funds for Afghan women to attend medical school is exemplary in that it can actually transform women’s lives and livelihood, turning many dreams into reality. There are countless Afghan women who desperately yearn to change their lives and live out their hopes, dreams and potential. Help Women Heal brings them steps closer to fulfilling these ambitions, not only for them personally, but for their community and indeed society as a whole.
In addition, Help Women Heal is helping train a fresh generation of U.S students in engaging with social justice issues, and offering them an opportunity in hands-on experience working with a non-profit organization. Help Women Heal is also facilitating forums for discussion and exchange about U.S involvement in Afghanistan, thereby contributing to a more informed citizenry. All this is essential in encouraging citizens in the U.S to remain active and participant in issues that affect our lives.
Please support this endeavor in any way you can.