Search

 

Cablegate: Courageous Afghan Women Lawyers, Judges, And

VZCZCXRO9557
OO RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3227/01 3531131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181131Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6458
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4456
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003227

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR SCA/FO DAS CAMP, SCA/A, DRL, GTIP, PRM, INL, GIWI
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPOL PREL PHUM AF
SUBJECT: COURAGEOUS AFGHAN WOMEN LAWYERS, JUDGES, AND
PROFESSORS LEAD BY EXAMPLE

1. (SBU) Summary: The turnout of approximately 250 female
lawyers, judges, and law professors from Kabul and from
several northern provinces to a USAID- and INL-funded women's
legal leadership workshop in Kabul from December 15-17
overwhelmed organizers. Over the course of the three days,
the Afghan women legal professionals participated
enthusiastically in small group discussions, role playing
exercises, and group presentations all geared toward
developing stronger leadership and advocacy skills. Most
Kabul participants stated their male peers generally accepted
them as colleagues, but provincial participants faced gender
discrimination. By the end of the conference, participants
departed with renewed commitment to their work and with
increased motivation to challenge the obstacles faced by
women in Afghanistan,s legal field.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Conference: Overwhelming attendance, strengthened motivation
--------------------------------------------- ----------

2. (SBU) In an important show of support for the event, the
Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice, and the Attorney
General's office granted leave to their female employees to
attend the conference. Still, organizers were overwhelmed by
the number of attendees, especially the strong contingent who
traveled from outside of Kabul. Planners expected only 100
women would attend, due to the timing of the event
immediately after the Eid holiday and the forecast of severe
winter weather. Over 250 turned out and participated through
the entire three-day conference.

3. (SBU) About a third of the attendees revealed they had
studied secretly at home during the Taliban era, with several
standing up to emphasize their pride in this accomplishment.
Several of the women told poloff they had returned to college
as older adults after the Taliban regime ended in order to
pursue legal studies.

4. (SBU) Women from Kabul reported their male peers generally
accepted them as colleagues while women from the provinces
described more overt discrimination. One female Kabul judge,
however, emphasized even in Kabul women legal professionals
still face many barriers including unequal treatment by male
colleagues and lack of access to certain academic programs,
such as the Sharia law faculty at Kabul University. Several
of the women from Samangan province said the rule of law and
the judicial system in Afghanistan were developing, but
extremely slowly and unevenly.

5. (SBU) It was clear that enthusiasm and a sense of
empowerment grew among participants as the conference
proceeded. As part of the first conference exercise, leaders
encouraged the women to call back to them "waleikum salaam."
The women's voices were soft and hesitant, and the leaders
teased them, saying "who can hear you." By the end of the
conference, the participants yelled responses back to the
facilitators. As part of the closing ceremony, event
organizers distributed INL-funded briefcases of office
supplies and legal texts, a process which caused a
good-natured mini-riot as participants scrambled over each
other in their excitement to claim their briefcases.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Leading women's rights advocate questions MOWA's advocacy
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (SBU) Minister of Women's Affairs Ghazanfar delivered a
disjointed speech at the workshop's closing ceremony. She
repeatedly paused and read from the conference's agenda. She
urged the attendees to apply the conference's lessons to
their family lives as well as their professional lives and
expressed her intent to support all Afghan women in pursuing
professional careers.

7. (SBU) Herat Chief Prosecutor and prominent Afghan civil
rights advocate Maria Bashir followed Ghazanfar and
passionately reported her group's positive reaction to the
conference, characterizing the connections formed between the

KABUL 00003227 002 OF 002


participants and the resulting potential for greatly
increased cooperation and coordination as the most important
conference take-away. Most interestingly, while standing six
inches away from Ghazanfar, Bashir directly criticized the
Ministry of Women's Affairs' efforts on behalf of Afghan
women. MOWA was not doing enough to support women and needed
to improve its effectiveness, specifically by doing more to
raise women's awareness of their rights. The audience gave
Bashir the largest round of applause by far.

8. (SBU) A Kabul judge told poloff she agreed with Bashir's
assessment of MOWA and was proud to count such a brave and
outspoken advocate for women as Bashir among her colleagues.
In a separate conversation with poloff, Bashir also expressed
great disappointment with President Karzai's policies toward
women, saying Karzai did not keep any of the promises he made
to Afghan women or do anything to advance their situation in
Afghan society.

---------------------------
Mixed views on the election
---------------------------

9. (SBU) Of the 10 conference participants surveyed by
poloff, all had registered and all planned to vote in the
upcoming election. Several women said they hoped Afghans
would elect leaders who would bring peace and stability to
Afghanistan, expressing concern about a recent perceived
decrease in security. On the other hand, Herat prosecutor
Bashir told poloff she did not think the upcoming election
would be a meaningful endeavor. Most people did not have
enough information about the candidates or issues to make an
informed decision for whom to vote.

10. (SBU) A different Kabul lawyer predicted overall
participation in the election would be significantly lower
than during the 2004-2005 elections due to less interest and
worse security. She spoke of the election in sharply ethnic
terms, saying the "minority Tajiks would support the election
and its results, but we doubt we will be fully represented by
the winner." She believed Afghans from other groups,
including Pashtuns, would vote only for candidates of their
own ethnicity. Other attendees, however, expressed more
positive sentiments, characterizing the election as extremely
important to Afghanistan's future.

WOOD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC