PRT Ghazni invest in mullahs’ and women’s advocacy

Written by Justyna Bajer Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team Sunday, 25 July 2010 02:00

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Kasia Lojtusik, Polish Provincial Reconstruction Team member, hands a certificate of completion to an Afghan housewife July 21. The certificate culminated the seminar, which proved to be an invaluable asset to the local community. (Photo by Krzysztof Freszel)Mullahs, women, public officials and merchants celebrated the end of three-month seminar for good governance, women rights and drug addiction July 21.

 The initiative, started by a local non-government organization, was financed by Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team.

“After that seminar, my perspective towards women’s rights has changed considerably,” said Sher Zad, announcer for state-owned local TV station RTA. “It showed me the extent of problems that Afghan families are facing on a daily basis.”

In total, 154 people participated in the course of study, including more than 50 mullahs, 40 women and five Afghan National Policemen. The social diversity added considerable value to the project, given that in conservative provinces, such as Ghazni, it is still rare to see people engaged collectively in many activities.

The project, carried out by the Afghan Community Rehabilitation Organization, was designed to deepen knowledge and understating problems which seriously impede further political, social and economic development of the province.

Ghazni has a functioning government administration, but it is considerably undercut by corruption and lack of good governance practices. Narcotics, in the area also undermine an economic growth, encourage criminality, fund the insurgency and together with violence, especially against women, have a devastating effect on families.

“It was the first time when a greater number of people – including men – could debate women issues, could learn that women have the same rights as men: the right to work, education, being active in political affairs,” said Shamayel Amiri, an independent female candidate in the approaching parliamentary elections.

Under the Constitution of Afghanistan, all citizens, male and female, have equal rights before the law. In reality, women in Ghazni are still seen as property of their male family members. An overwhelming majority of them are struggling with poverty, as well as limited access to education and healthcare. Nearly 80% of Afghan women are illiterate.

The seminar drew considerable attention from mullahs who, according to many experts, are a key to a success of the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.

“Participation of mullahs in the seminar was of great importance,” said Amiri. “They have influence over the people and should be aware of what is democracy, rule of law, good governance and human rights.”

Amiri also said that, in Ghazni, it is common to associate democracy with a lack of obedience and respect towards parents, a deterioration of social and ethical values and “all the evil of the West.”

All attendees of the three-party course received certificates and small gifts. Seminar closing remarks were given by Al Haj Hussein Ali, chief of the Department for Borders and Tribal Affairs,\and Sayeed Ismail Jahangir, spokesperson for the governor, among other people.

Congratulations and words of encouragement were also extended by Polish Army Col. Robert Polak, deputy chief for Ghazni PRT.

“Ghazni needs people like you. People with good understanding of problems and ready to join hands in a fight for the common good,” said Polak. “The road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days. But I stay confident that you will pass it successfully.”

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Al Haj Hussien Ali, chief of the Department of Borders, listens to the Chief of Afghan Community Rehabilitation Organization July 21 in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. (Photo by Krzysztof Freszel)GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Polish Army Col. Robert Polak, Polish Provincial Reconstruction Team deputy commander, shakes hands with local Afghan boy before handing over his certificate July 21 in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. (Photo by Krzysztof Freszel)