Kabul, 15 December, 2020 –
To conclude the UN's annual “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign, United Nations in Afghanistan announced the winners of the ‘Dedgah Zan’ or ‘Through Her Eyes’ photo competition today during an award ceremony at the Asia Culture House in Kabul.

Each year, the #16Days campaign provides an avenue for supporters of gender equality to come together, stand with survivors, and unite against all forms of violence against women and girls. Alarmingly, 2020 reports have revealed a distressing increase in the already existing pandemic of domestic violence against women, a consequence of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns to stymie the increasing rates of COVID-19 community transmission. The ‘Dedgah Zan’ photo contest therefore brought together Afghan photographers in competition to capture and honour favourable visuals of Afghan women challenging gender stereotypes and inspiring survivors of violence through the dismantlement of barriers preventing women’s meaningful participation in society, the promotion of inclusivity, and encouragement for a positive role for women in Afghanistan.


Ms Rada Akbar delivers her closing remarks.
Participant poses with the UNDP selfie-frame.
Participant poses with the UNDP selfie-frame.
Participant poses with the UNDP selfie-frame.

“The photo contest helped challenge prevailing social norms that rob Afghan girls and women of the opportunity to realize their full potential,” declared Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Resident Coordinator, a.i. Afghanistan, Kabul at the award ceremony. “We received over 200 submissions, with more than half sent by women photographers from across the country.”

Judges from the UN Resident Coordinator office, UN Development Programme, World Food Programme, and the UN Population Fund, together with a special jury from UNDP’S donour partner, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Afghanistan, selected the winning photographers as well as the ten best photographs based on the theme and level of creativity encapsulated in the submissions.

Ms. Nilofar Niekpor, a photojournalist from Radio Killed won the ‘Dedgah Zan’s first prize during the ceremony at the Asia Culture House. Kabul-based fashion photographer Ms. Olya Moradi was awarded second place and Mr. Zabihullah Habibi, a freelance photographer from Ghazni won third prize following their adherence to and achievement in capturing the photo competition’s theme.

The judges’ top ten photographs were the compositions of Neman Noori, Shukria Azadmanesh, Fatima Hasani, Hasibullah Asmati, Tahira Fahimi, Kawa Basharat, Enayatullah Atal, Ahmad Hussain, Mohsen Hussaini and Elaha Sahel.

“I would like to thank and congratulate all the photo contest participants, as well as the winners whose art helped support this important campaign” added Abdallah Al Dardari, UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative. “If we look closely, the contest photographs show how a peaceful Afghanistan, free from violence against women, can and will appear.”

The award ceremony concluded with closing remarks by Ms Rada Akbar, an Artist, Photographer and Founder of Abarzanan.

At the conclusion of the UN’s 2020 #16Days campaign, UNDP Afghanistan with support from the Republic of Korea takes pride in the progress made so far as considerations of gender and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) inform every development programme in the country. Highlights from UNDP Afghanistan’s Enhancing Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in Afghanistan (EGEMA) project include: establishing the first Master’s Programme in Gender and Women Studies within the Social Science Faculty of Kabul University in 2015, building 200 beekeeping farms for and training women-headed households to produce and sell honey across four districts of the Daikundi Province, organizing a school competition with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs on the rights of women in Islam, and facilitating gender awareness programming in public and private universities throughout the country.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that takes place each year. It commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day, indicating that violence against women is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide.

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