CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 13, 2002
Center for Human Rights joins in project to benefit Afghan women
The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) is joining with other
local humanitarian groups to encourage local residents to "Walk So They
Can Read" this spring to support the empowerment of women and girls in
Afghanistan. The goal is to have groups of people gather for outdoor walks
in solidarity with the women of Afghanistan who were forbidden from walking
in public under Taliban rule and who can now begin to walk freely in the streets.
This project has been organized by the U.S. Committee for UNIFEM/USA, the
United Nations Development Fund for Women.
Iowans are being asked to schedule walks between March 1 and May 31. Walkers,
runners and bikers are asked to contribute a minimum of $5 each. Donations
should be sent to UNIFEM, 1200 18th St. NW, Suite1100, Washington, D.C., 20036.
In addition to individually organized walks, the UICHR is planning a community
walk in late April.
For almost six years, Afghan women were completely removed from social,
economic and political life and virtually all of their human rights were violated.
Only 3 percent of Afghan women are literate. In Kabul alone, there are an
estimated 50,000 widows and female heads of households. The majority of women
have no access to clean water, energy, sanitation or health care.
UNIFEM is working in Afghanistan to highlight gender-equality and the active
participation of women in the reconstruction efforts. The group is focusing
on women's participation in peace building; women's leadership in the rebuilding
of communities; strengthening women's economic and security needs; and the
elimination of violence against women and the protection of women's human
rights. UNIFEM has developed its strategy in consultation with Afghan women
and in the context of the country's history and culture. Afghan women who
have backgrounds in medicine, education, law and other skills will be a critical
resource in assisting women to re-enter public and political life.
Local sponsors of "We Walk So They Can Read" are the UI Center
for Human Rights (UICHR), the United Nations Association of Iowa (UNA-USA),
and the Iowa City Human Rights Commission (ICHRC). For additional information,
contact Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR associate director for community affairs and
the Iowa coordinator for the UNIFEM/USA Spring Walk, (319) 338-1230 <email@example.com>
or visit the UNIFEM website to download the "We Walk So They Can Read"