Today is International Human Rights Day – a day when we in North America can celebrate the great strides we have made over the decades. There is still more to do here, of course, but in many of the countries where War Child operates, those rights are consistently under attack, or worse, simply ignored. But our programming is aimed at addressing these injustices – no more so than in Afghanistan.
With the country’s recent history, combined with new threats from an insurgent Taliban and a newly expanded ISIS, the status of the rights of women and girls looks precarious. But girls like Anar are pushing back against the negative tide.
Anar is sixteen. Her mother is a home-maker and father is a farmer. She is a pioneer for the rest of girls in her community. Girls like her struggle to realize their rights in Afghanistan, but she is tirelessly pursuing justice for her siblings, peers and self.
Her experience as a teenager is, unfortunately, commonplace in Afghanistan. During an escalation in violence in her hometown, Anar’s family quickly realized it was not safe to stay there and fled. They evacuated with very few of their belongings, leaving behind the life they had built.
After moving to a camp for displaced people, her family struggled to fulfil their basic needs and find shelter. Over the next year they slowly made progress reestablishing themselves. They built a mud house as shelter, and the men are working to create a farm from barren land to grow food to sell and feed the family. However, Anar and her siblings missed their education because of a lack of available school places.
As a young girl out of school, Anar’s future should have been decided: an early marriage and life as a home-maker. But she was determined to decide her own path and support her peers to do the same. She joined War Child as a volunteer facilitator at a community-based safe-space, and received child protection training. She works to generate awareness on the rights of children, including protection from early marriage.
Girls as young as 11 are often forced to marry by their families. This is due to poverty, but often justified on basis of strengthening the family’s relationships within the community. This practice has a devastating effect on the girls. Health issues during pregnancy, domestic abuse and severe depression are some of the critical issues they face. And an education is a distant dream.
But Anar feels hopeful with War Child. “I can feel the change in my life, I know about my rights. Whenever I see violence against women or children, I refer it to a child protection committee member to solve it.” Anar said. “Before I really felt alone inside the house, but now I am able to go out find cases, help children find safe-spaces and meet with child protection committee members. Now I feel I am someone in this community.”
By donating today, you will empower young girls like Anar to claim their rights, decide their future and create change in their community. With your investment in training, support and monitoring, volunteers and community partners like Anar will have an even greater impact on the future of their community.
Anar’s uncle is impressed by what she has achieved. “I am really happy for Anar and what she has done for our community. She, by herself, decided to work as a volunteer facilitator. Although she does not get any kind of financial benefits, she loves the work”.
Anar now has a future full of possibility. “I would love to become an engineer in the future to support my family,” she says “And I want to build another room in my house so that my brothers and sisters have a place to study.”
With additional edits by War Child staff.