Women’s Rights Unit
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) is Afghanistan’s constitutionally established national human rights institution (Afghan Constitution, Article 58).
To promote, protect, and monitor human rights in the country, AIHRC has established six program units:
1. Human Rights Education Unit
2. Women’s Rights Unit
3. Child Rights Unit
4. Persons with Disabilities Unit
5. Monitoring and Investigation Unit
6. Transitional Justice Unit
As a significant program unit at AIHRC, Women’s Rights Unit (WRU) has focused its efforts on the five priority areas set forth in AIHRC’s Four-Year Strategic and Action Plans 1389-1392 (2010-2013):
Strategic Objective 1: Leadership
In cooperation with other program units, WRU enhances AIHRC’s reputation as the national authority for women’s rights protection and promotion in Afghanistan, provides expertise and advice to enrich national and international women’s rights programs in the country, is visible and proactive in drawing national and international attention to important women’s rights issues in Afghanistan, and increases public awareness about AIHRC’s role and impact concerning women’s rights.
WRU intends to achieve the aforesaid outcomes through issuing media statements and press releases, holding press conferences, presenting recommendations to the relevant national and international actors, and organizing public events with a view to upholding women’s rights in the country.
Strategic Objective 2: Education
WRU works in close collaboration with other program units to increase public awareness about women’s rights; institutionalize women’s rights in schools, universities, teacher training institutes, and military training centers; bring about attitudinal and behavioral changes among the Afghan people; eliminate violence against women; and promote research and discussion about women’s rights, especially women’s rights and Islam. To these ends, WRU engages, in cooperation with other program units, in holding workshops, follow-up meetings, and awareness-raising meetings; increasing public access to women’s rights education and training materials; supporting the Government and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for the protection and promotion of women’s rights; and having radio and TV programs produced and broadcast on women’s rights-related topics.
Strategic Objective 3: Empowerment
WRU closely collaborates with other program units to improve AIHRC’s effectiveness in managing its programs and resources, increase staff expertise and professionalism in the protection and promotion of women’s rights, ensure gender balance in AIHRC’s staff composition, build staff capacity to follow up and resolve cases involving violations of women’s rights, and strengthen the capacity of the Government and CSOs for the protection and promotion of women’s rights. To achieve these goals, WRU, in cooperation with other program units, provides training opportunities for women’s rights staff members to increase their expertise and professionalism, takes effective measures to ensure gender balance in AIHRC’s staff composition, increasingly adopts results-based management techniques in its days-to-day work, and provides support and training to the Government and CSOs.
Strategic Objective 4: Advocacy
In close cooperation with other program units, WRU advocates for an increased number of laws, policies, and regulations to protect women’s rights; ensures the harmonization of national law with international women’s rights instruments; supports AIHRC’s participation in national, regional, and international fora and networks in order to advance women’s rights priorities; and deters policies and measures that adversely affect women’s rights. To these ends, WRU contributes to the establishment of advocacy networks and joint initiatives with the Government and CSOs, participates in the law-making process through the provision of legislative reviews and comments, presents statements and comments on reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council and other UN and international bodies concerning women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Strategic Objective 5: Monitoring and Investigation
WRU cooperates with other program units to provide information to the public about the Government’s compliance with its national and international women’s rights obligations; improve the treatment and conditions of prisoners, detainees, and suspects in female prisons and detention centers; increase awareness and sensitization about the level and degree of corruption and its adverse and direct effects on the realization of women’s rights; and increase women’s access to justice. To achieve these goals, WRU, in close collaboration with other program units, prepares, publishes, and disseminates shadow, monitoring, research and situational reports on women’s rights in Afghanistan; regularly monitors female prisons, detention centers, and shelters in order to assess women’s rights observance and protection; conducts field monitoring activities to assess the realization of women’s civil and political rights during the electoral process; and monitors, investigates, and follows up cases of violations of women’s rights.
By Latifa Sultani
Women’s Rights Program Coordinator