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Cablegate: Embassy Kabul's Nominations for 2008 Secretary's

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OO RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #3632/01 2981035
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251035Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1116
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXP/ALL NATO POST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4257
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003632

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA.FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A,G/IWI
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN PREL KPAO PHUM AF
SUBJECT: EMBASSY KABUL'S NOMINATIONS FOR 2008 SECRETARY'S
WOMEN OF COURAGE AWARD

REF: STATE 126072

1. (SBU) Per Reftel, Kabul is pleased to submit its list of
nominees for the Secretary's 2008 Award for International
Women of courage, keyed to the priorities in the reference.
Per instructions, Embassy Kabul is submitting three (3)
nominees. All nominees have been informed of the
Ambassador's intention to nominate them and are available to
travel in March 2008. A list of nominees in rank order
follows.

2. (SBU) First priority: Suraya PAKZAD
Full legal name: Suraya Pakzad
Job title/association: Founder and president, Voice of Women
Date of birth: 01 October 1968
Country of birth: Afghanistan
Citizenship: Afghan
Address: Bagh-e-Azadi Street, Herat, Afghanistan
Telephone and email: 093-0799-209-386;
vwo suraya@hotmail.com; vwo afg@yahoo.com
Passport number: OR 917728

Justification: Ms. Pakzad is the founder of one of only a
few women's non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan and
the only NGO that works in the western city of Herat. She
founded the Voice of Women in 1988, and it continued
operating while Afghanistan was under Taliban rule, a huge
achievement to say the least. The organization has worked
continuously since its founding to provide shelter for women
and girls; to promote the role of women in government, and to
provide poverty reduction programs. Ms. Pakzad's
organization has offices in Kabul but recently opened an
office in Herat because, as Ms. Pakzad says: "we're more
needed in Herat." One of the organization's core services is
providing shelter and counseling to women who have recently
been released from jail, women who have run away from abusive
relationships and girls as young as three and four years old
who have run away from forced marriages -- a form of
indentured servitude under brutal conditions. The
organization also works to advocate for increasing the role
of women in society and does gender issues programs with
girls, boys, women and children. Ms. Pakzad has participated
in several workshops at the local, national and regional
level, and has visited the U.S. before for workshops. 39
years old, she is married and has six children. She speaks
English well, is a native speaker of Dari and also speaks
Pashto. She has been informed of the Ambassador's intention
to nominate her and is hugely enthusiastic about the
opportunity. She is aware of the impact this would have on
her life and assured Poloff October 16 that she understood
exactly what this award would bring, both the negative and
positive aspects. Ms. Pakzad said she has been threatened
for being a courageous woman before and continuing to do a
form of work that many in Afghanistan misunderstand and fear,
but she continues to do her job, saying &difficult things
are often the most important, and there are many things here
I must do.8 She is willing to accept this award and is
available to travel in March 2008.

3. (SBU) Second priority: Shala MAIHANDOST
Full legal name: Shala Maihandost
Job title/association: Head of the Kabul Department of
Women,s Affairs , Ministry of Women,s Affairs
Date of birth: 02 February 1957
Country of birth: Afghanistan
Citizenship: Afghan
Address: 3rd Makroryan, Kabul City
Telephone and email: 093-799-214-502
Passport number: OR 018333

Justification: Mrs. Maihandost has been an outspoken advocate
for women,s rights for many years in an unforgivingly harsh
environment. She worked as a director of several orphanages
in two northern provinces for many years until the Taliban
rose to power in 1996. The most visible advocate for
women,s rights in the north, she quickly became a target for
Taliban ire, and while she tried to remain in Afghanistan and
continue her work, the Taliban looted her house and
threatened her family. Fearing for her life and the safety

KABUL 00003632 002 OF 002


of her loved ones, Mrs. Maihandost fled to Pakistan, where
she spent five years as a refugee. She continued her work
while in Pakistan as a tireless champion of her cause,
working the entire time with various women,s and children,s
rights NGOs and volunteering with the United Nations. When
she returned to Kabul in 2001, she drove through the streets,
dodging Taliban bodies, calling on a loudspeaker for women to
come out and stand up for their rights to be recognized as
individuals. In 2002, she was made head of the women,s
shura, or council, and later became Deputy Head of the
district women,s affairs office in the Ministry of Women,s
Affairs. In 2005, she became Head of the Kabul Department
(administrative unit) of Women,s Affairs in the same
ministry. A well-known figure in Afghanistan, some say she
is the voice of women in the country today, and is a very
public figure who appears regularly on television and at
conferences. Although her activities have placed her in
constant danger of personal attack, she has never given up
her cause and regularly visits refugee return areas, fighting
to publicize issues such as domestic abuse and physical
hardship, both of which often occur in returnee areas. She
is married with five children and lives in Kabul. She speaks
Dari and Pashto and has basic English comprehension. She has
been informed of the Ambassador,s intention to nominate her
for this award and said that she is not afraid of any
possible repercussions, while recognizing the need to take
proper precautions for her safety. She is willing to accept
this award and is available to travel in March 2008.

4. (SBU) Third priority: Mahbooba HAIDARY
Full legal name: Mahbooba Haidary
Job title/association:Operation and Maintenance
Specialist/Trainer, Emergency Irrigation Rehabilitation
Project
Date of birth: 06 March 1976
Country of birth: Afghanistan
Citizenship: Afghan
Address:Hayat Street, District 6, Mazar-e-Sharif
Telephone and email: 093-0700-510-550,
mahbooba.balkhi@eirp-afg.org; mahboobahaidary@yahoo.com
Passport number: OR 087941

Justification: In addition to three decades of civil war and
brutal rule by the Taliban, Afghanistan suffers from poor
irrigation and a low water table. Female engineers are
particularly rare in Afghanistan, and Ms. Haidary is even
rarer in that she is a young, educated woman who worked
successfully for an NGO while Afghanistan was under Taliban
rule. She has a degree in engineering from Balkh University
in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, a relatively
progressive area of Afghanistan. Ms. Haidary works primarily
in surveying, designing and executing rural infrastructure
development works like schools, clinics, roads and water
supply facilities. Her projects have helped provide relief
to vulnerable communities, and she has worked with the
International Organization on Migration to design over 20
schools for girls in the four northern provinces of
Afghanistan. She has also briefly worked with the
International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent here in
Afghanistan on sanitary water and latrine projects. She is
unmarried, has no children, and lives with her mother and her
brother (who is a judge) in Mazar-e-Sharif. She speaks
English, Dari, Urdu and Russian. She has not traveled
internationally before but would welcome the chance to see
the United States and learn about U.S. culture
enthusiastically. She has been informed of the Ambassador's
intention to nominate her for this award. She said that she
was "cautious" of the threat posed by the added publicity but
that it would be "worth it to do this for my work and for my
country." She is willing to accept this award and is
available to travel in March 2008.

WOOD

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