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Cablegate: Not Afraid: Afghan Women Leaders, Role Models, And

VZCZCXRO0561
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3174 3430724
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080724Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6361
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 003174

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CG CJTF-101, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PHUM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: NOT AFRAID: AFGHAN WOMEN LEADERS, ROLE MODELS, AND
THE NEXT GENERATION

1. (U) An impressive sampling of Afghan women leaders
attended a December 4 human rights and gender violence
seminar, jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Interior and
the US Embassy. International media coverage focused on
quotes about increasing threats to women in public life. The
participants, however, offered a more sophisticated analysis
of the situation of women in Afghanistan today, stressing the
historical, social, and economic context.

2. (SBU) Afghan National Army General Khatool, who leads
the Army's training department, noted that deteriorating
public security and the economic downturn are now joining
persistent female illiteracy and "unacceptable" traditions as
drivers of violence against women. "Women pay the price of
crimes against men," she said, when families use forced
marriages to pay off blood and honor debts that result from
the lawless conflicts of the insurgency.

3. (SBU) Azra Jafari, the recently-appointed mayor of the
provincial capital of Dai Kundi and the country's first woman
to hold such a post, said development was her first priority.
Implementing the long-delayed municipal plan for public
services, Jafari argued, was the fastest and best way to
change the situation of women. Afghan National Police

4. (SBU) Colonel Maria Sediqqa Rasekh cited Islamic
teachings that protect women's rights, and noted that, unlike
the "corruption of the Taliban," this government has made
progress in setting up institutions such as specialized
police units to address family violence. As for the burqa and
similar traditions, Sediqqa Rasekh told reporters: "The
uniform itself is a sign of courage for women. It shows we
are not afraid."

--------------------------
ROLE MODELS AND THE FUTURE
--------------------------

5. (SBU) These prominent women, and others like them, are
both a force for change now and role models for the next
generation. On December 3, more than 20 Afghan women leaders
and their daughters and nieces attended a "Mother-Daughter
Career Day" hosted by the Embassy. In a lively open-mike
format, Afghan and American women traded stories of
experiences in overcoming discrimination, building careers,
and balancing work and family. Judge Uzra Zoi said, "The
Taliban told me I couldn't be a judge because I am a woman.
Look, here, now I am a judge. And a judge in the
counternarcotics court, which is very difficult." An young
NGO leader spoke up: "I am 19 years old," she said. "I run
my organization because I am ready to help other women." A
daughter, aged 12, took the floor to announce that she
admired her mother's career in politics. As for herself, and
the future, "I will run for president."
DELL

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