The relentless fight of Afghan women in exile

By Pablo Muñoz Campaña

Athens, Aug 17 (EFE).- Despite having fled their country, a group of Afghan women now living in Greece have not given up the fight for freedom and equality for Afghan people.

“Although we left our home, we could not abandon our responsibility,” Nazifa Bek, an Afghan lawmaker who arrived in Athens in September 2021 shortly after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, tells Efe.

Bek is also the president of the Afghan Women Parliamentarians & Leaders Network (AWPLN), a foundation formed by a group of Afghan women and MPs who are fighting for Afghan people’s rights.

The network was founded in December last year by 20 women. Today, the foundation has over 1,000 members from various ethnic backgrounds working in different countries.

Homa Ahmadi, a founding member of AWPLN and an MP with over 30 years of experience helping people in Afghanistan, says she wants to be the “voice of the people” and that helping others is “in her blood.”

“The 15th August 2021 was the darkest day in the history of Afghanistan, we never thought the Taliban could come back to power and we will never forget it,” she says.

One of AWPLN’s lines of work is helping Afghan refugees to settle and integrate into new countries by supporting them with bureaucratic processes, new languages and employment opportunities.

It is also involved in the struggle for women in Afghanistan — who have lost the right to education under the Taliban regime — by setting up online courses.

“Not everyone can leave Afghanistan, so the solution is not to help people leave the country, but to help them improve it,” Parwin Hamakr, member of AWPLN and a lawyer who campaigns against gender violence, tells Efe.

Bek, Ahmadi and Hamakr were evacuated to Greece by Melissa Nework, a Greek organization that helps migrant women, after an explosion at Kabul airport in August last year that left more than 170 people dead.

“It was an incredible moment, they had just arrived from a traumatic journey and were already thinking more about helping Afghanistan than about their own basic needs,” says Nadina Jristopulu, founder and director of Melissa Network.

The three women do not have much hope for the future of their country and fear people have given up.

“Poverty and humanitarian problems are enormous, the situation is very bad, people need food but have nothing to eat,” says Ahmadi.

But despite the grim looking future, they are not giving up.

They have already reached many local politicians, members of the European Parliament and United Nations representatives and plan to open a AWPLN office in Canada, where Bek will be traveling to in September. EFE


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