“Religious Leaders’ Support Key to Ensuring Rights For” Women

Dec 2, 2013

UNDP Afghanistan: Religious scholars and teachers to shape a more progressive discourse on women’s rights from the perspective of Islam.

UNDP-Supported Ulemas’ Training Discusses Strategies For Elimination of Violence Against Women

Kabul: eligious scholars representing nearly every province of Afghanistan have voiced their support to propagating the message of Islam on women’s rights and the need for elimination of all forms of violence against women. More than 100 Islamic scholars, including women scholars participated in the three-day workshop on “Analysis of Women’s Rights and Elimination of Violence against Women in Islam.

The Afghanistan Minister for Hajj and Religious Affairs, Dr. Mohammed Yousuf Niazi, called for expanding efforts for involvement of the religious community in safeguarding women’s rights. “We need to pay special attention to awareness- raising on women’s rights that have been accorded a primacy in the holy tenets of Islam,” Dr. Niazi observed.

The workshop, supported by the UNDP-Gender Equality Project, was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs (MoHRA). The workshop aimed at building capacity of religious scholars and teachers to shape a more progressive discourse on women’s rights from the perspective of Islam.

Addressing the workshop, UNDP Country Director Alvaro Rodriguez said it was vital to look at women’s rights from an Islamic perspective in Afghanistan.

“Combating violence against women is a matter of great concern to the Afghan society and the international community. Religious leaders have a vital role to play to educate the public about the messages of Islam that protect the rights of women. We need the support of the Ulema and religious teachers to help communicate this message,” Mr. Rodriguez observed.

Speaking on the occasion, the Head of Parliamentary Commission on Women’s Rights and Human Rights, Ms. Fawzia Koofi appealed to the participating religious scholars to exercise their influence to advocate for women’s rights so that people in greater numbers allow their daughters to receive education and to grant them the rights that Islam has provided to them.

“Islam has granted rights for women 1400 years ago, but unfortunately some unfavorable cultural practices has taken these rights away from women of our country. I request the Ulema to provide awareness to your communities”, Ms. Koofi noted.

In Afghanistan, insufficient public awareness of women’s rights, in particular among influential groups such as the religious scholars and community elders has contributed to the rise in the violence against women. Statistics from the Regional Information Network reveal that one in every three Afghan woman experiences physical, psychological and or sexual violence.

Khadija, one of the women participants said: “Violence against women exists in every country and it is very important that the Ulemas and clerics are aware of this and have the responsibility to raise public awareness. Elimination of violence against women has been declared in international laws, Afghan laws as well as in the holy religion of Islam. I am committed to convey all I have learned in this program to others and make them aware of their rights.”

Contact information

Kumar Tiku, UNDP Communications Specialist, Email: kumar.tiku@undp.org

Anusha Ahmadi, UNDP GEP Communications Officer, Email: anusha.ahmadi@undp.org

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