Years of civil unrest and tribal conflict in Afghanistan have exacerbated rigid gender roles for women and girls, especially at tribal and village levels. Women and girls have been abused and suppressed for the purpose of keeping the integrity and honour of the tribes. Life for women was made even more difficult under the Taliban, when the women of Afghanistan were largely banned from social and political life.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, while Afghanistan has seen a rising level of women’s political participation, there remains numerous challenges and growing concern for the future.

Today, Afghanistan is still one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a women. With increasing violence for women in and outside of the home, the withdrawal of troops from the summer of 2011 and moves by the international community and Afghan government to involve the Taliban in the peace and reconstruction process, the situation for women in Afghanistan is dire and is likely to remain so.

For peace to have a chance, for women to have a chance, women must have opportunities to play a fuller part in the peace process and public life. And there must investment in women’s health, education, economic development and rights awareness, so women can play a fuller part in their societies and the rebuilding of their country.

  • The brutal suppression of women’s rights under the Taliban was cited as one of the justifications for US Military intervention in 2001
  • Research by Global Rights Afghanistan in 2008 concluded that 87 percent of Afghan women and girls are faced with at least one form of sexual, physical, economic or psychological abuse
  • Outspoken women are often the targets of intimidation and their safety remains a key concern. In September 2008 Taliban gunmen killed Afghanistan’s most prominent policewoman; the Head of the Department of Crimes against Women in Kandahar, Lt-­‐Col Malalai Kakar
  • A women dies in childbirth every 27 minutes, mainly, because of a lack of healthcare

The Peace Process

  • The National Consultative Peace Jirga in June 2010 had 1600 participants of which more than 350 (22 percent) were women. The original list had only 20 women participants. It is broadly recognised that pressure from the international community and constant lobbying of women’s groups with government officials enabled their wider participation.
  • The Kabul Conference in July 2010 involving representatives of donor and other stakeholder countries, had only one woman participant who was asked to present as a representative of civil society, including women’s groups. During the conference, the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) expressed their concern in statements, press conferences and direct negotiations with government officials that the Afghan Peace and Re-­‐integration Plan (APARP) excludes women from the overall process of design, implementation and oversight of the planned peace and reintegration process. The plan does not refer to international instruments like 1325, CEDAW or other human rights conventions. National instruments like NAPWA and the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Law are also excluded from the guiding principles of the implementation of APARP.
  • Women’s groups and activists are struggling to be included as part of the Leadership Committee of the High Peace Council that will be established as an outcome of the National Consultative Peace Jirga in June
  • Women have also expressed concern about secret talks believed to be taking place involving Afghan government officials, Pakistani intelligence and some Taliban leaders. While women’s groups can advocate for inclusion of women’s voices and concerns in publicly acknowledged negotiations, they fear that women’s rights can too easily be negotiated away in behind-­‐the-­‐scenes dealings.

Politics and Law

  • The Afghan government has committed to fast tracking women’s participation in the civil service to 30% by 2013 (currently 22% with only 9% at decision making level)
  • In the 9,394 Community Development Councils 21,239 (24%) are women and 67,212 (76%) are male
  • While women represent 25% of the National Assembly, the Minister of Women’s Affairs is the only female cabinet member and in 17 out of 36 Ministries there are fewer than 10% female employees
  • Of the 1547 sitting judges only 62, 4.2% are women.
  • Of the 546 prosecutors, 35 (6.4%) are female
  • Of the 1241 attorneys 76 (6.1%) are female

Economic Participation

  • Women’s wages are 1/3 of men’s
  • There are some 50,000 war widows in Kabul supporting an average of 6 dependants
  • Women play a vital role in the South harvesting poppies with three solid meals a day included as part of their wage packet

Violence against women

Violence against women including rape, torture and forced marriage is getting worse (the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission).

  • 80% of women experience domestic violence
  • 60% of marriages are forced
  • 50% of girls marry before they are 16 (Womankind Worldwide)

According to the 2008 Violence Against Women Primary Database Report (UNIFEM) 92% of reported cases of abuse of women and girls is by close family members and other relatives. When they seek recourse from the government they are further molested by the government representatives.

Women for Women International in Afghanistan

WFWI has worked in Afghanistan since 2002. We run a one year programme offering financial support, rights awareness education, training in vocational skills and business skills to marginalised women throughout the country.

The Programme offers a package of support to help women meet their most urgent needs and negotiate obstacles such as poverty, violence, a lack of education and healthcare.

In 2008 we launched a Men’s Leadership Programme. It encourages male leaders from all sectors; police, religion, military, government and business to help change the attitudes and behaviour of men.

We have delivered support in Afghanistan since 2002, serving 37,388 women, benefiting an additional 201,895 family members across Afghanistan. Our main office is based in Kabul.

Urgent action now will make a big difference to the women and girls of Afghanistan.

As the world is about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, peace negotiations are happening that will determine the future of Afghanistan. Women are excluded from taking a full part in these negotiations, and we demand that women have an equal seat at the negotiating table, and an equal voice in determining their future, and the future of their country.

There is no peace without women. More than anything, women in Afghanistan need security so that they can play a full part in rebuilding their country.

Let’s support our sisters, and help them to build a better future for Afghanistan. We can do this by signing this petition and joining together on bridges on 8th March, International Women’s Day, alongside our sisters in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries across the world.

This petition will be presented to your Foreign Secretary of State, calling for urgent action so that Afghan women can play a full part in building the bridges of peace for their future.

Sign the petition here.


Fundraising details here.


Women rocked the world on International Women’s Day 8th March 2010.
A global call for peace on 108 bridges in 4 continents.

Women for Women International are very excited to announce that we will be marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day – 8th March 2011 – by holding another JOIN ME ON THE BRIDGE campaign.

Save the date: International Women’s Day – 8th March 2011

Women for Women International will be organising the second JOIN ME ON THE BRIDGE event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

This follows the amazing success of Women for Women International’s first ever global bridge campaign in 2010 when over 20,000 women across four continents took part in 108 different bridge events. 2011 is going to be bigger and better with Bridge events spanning the globe.

You can find the Bridge event that is closest to you here. If you want to take part, please register (on the same page) and we will keep you updated of all the developments so you can get involved in making banners, and other activities leading up to the bridge campaign. If you have any specific questions, please send an email to [email protected].

What to expect:

  • Walk the bridge with hundreds of fellow supporters!
  • Create a Peace Banner with us that will represent your city and its visions of peace!
  • Hear from prominent voices in the global women’s movement!
  • Be part of our viral video showing the world how many of us gathered on bridges!

Organise an event

It is really very easy to organise a Bridge event! You decide which bridge you’d like to stand on, invite your friends and other people you think will be interested, organise permits where required and take pictures to show the rest of the world what you did. See photos of 2010 here.

To organise an event, please go here.

Press Releases

Global Campaign Launches to Support Women in Afghanistan on the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, 16 December 2010. Download pdf here.
Join me on the Bridge 2011 – How you can get involved. Download pdf here.
Women in Afghanistan – Background Briefing. Download pdf here.
Join me on the Bridge – At a Glance. Download pdf here.


  • Download a .zip folder with artwork and high res images here. (7.4 MB)
  • Download the 2010 Campaign Poster here. (4.7 MB)
  • Download images of global events by country here. (121.6 MB)
  • Download a .zip folder with banner ads in different formats to promote the Join me on the Bridge campaign on your blog or website here. (368 KB)

Join us


Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time. Visit womenforwomen.org for more information.

The idea for Join Me on the Bridge came from the Country Directors of Women for Women’s programmes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – two countries which have seen some of the most devastating impacts of war in recent years and where atrocities such as rape, torture and violence against women are commonplace. Women from different communities decided to come together on a bridge which borders their two countries, in the heart of the conflict; to stand up for peace and an end to violence against women.

We will be marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2011, by organising an even bigger movement of women to join together on a bridge. Women, children and men, whether it’s 2, 200, 2000, or more, will be joining together on bridges across the world, holding up banners, making a public statement that ‘Stronger Women Build Bridges of Peace’ and supporting women in war-torn areas. They will be calling for women to have a greater say at the peace negotiating tables and for countries to honour the UN goals they have signed up to, to bring an end to violence against women in areas of conflict.

“100 years ago brave women stood up and changed the world for so many of us. Today, there are equally brave women standing up for equality in Afghanistan. Now is our chance to get behind them and help bring peace and greater security to these women. Women in Afghanistan must be fully included in the peace negotiations. Peace without women doesn’t stand a chance, and the time to build peace is now – before the troops start withdrawing in June 2011.

We’re not asking for any new policies or laws. They already exist. We have UN Resolution 1325, and we have the Millennium Development Goals. It’s time to act, and we’re calling for everyone who wants to make a stand against the brutalities inflicted on women in Afghanistan, and in areas of conflict around the world, to join us on a bridge on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, 8th March 2011.” Says Kate Nustedt, Executive Director of Women for Women UK, and organiser of the global Join me on the Bridge campaign.

Be part of it. One woman can change anything. Many women can change everything. Join a Bridge Event.