Human Rights Day 2009: ChildFund at Work in Afghanistan

by Virginia Sowers
Community Manager

Upholding the respect and value of the individual is a guiding principle for ChildFund International as we go about our work in 31 countries.
Respect for human rights and human dignity “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” the General Assembly affirmed in its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As the United Nations and other organizations and individuals around the world mark the Dec. 10 anniversary of Human Rights Day, I wanted to share an update from ChildFund Afghanistan. We are making progress with regard to child protection, elimination of gender-based violence and education, especially for girls.

ChildFund has worked in Afghanistan since 2001, initiating an emergency response just days after the ceasefire that followed the first U.S.-led military action.

During the past eight years, ChildFund Afghanistan has established services in 151 communities in the four provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, Badkhshan and Baghlan, reaching 277,000 children and family members.

Elimination of Gender-Based Violence
ChildFund Afghanistan’s program to eliminate gender-based violence was developed at the request of communities and government officials. The program works with both men and women in 60 communities within the Kunduz, Baghlan and Takhar provinces.

Young girls in Afghanistan are receiving educational opportunities.

By promoting awareness and response to early and forced marriage, domestic violence and sexual violence, circumstances for these individuals and their communities will improve.

The program includes public awareness campaigns and also benefits 900 individuals by providing vocational training and income-support activities for women. A police force and judicial system that addresses the violence also is improving conditions. And there is now a health system with improved capacity to help those who have been abused.

ChildFund plans to expand the program through outreach to schools, including teacher training and additional work with students on gender awareness.

Lots of Books!
ChildFund Afghanistan has constructed or rehabilitated 34 government schools and a teacher-training institute, as well as established and supplied 70 community libraries. We have provided nonformal educational services to more than 66,800 youth, including 32,000 girls. An additional 3,000 youth have participated in vocational training programs.

For the programs to succeed, the community and government officials need to value them. That’s why ChildFund Afghanistan works closely with the community and government officials to ensure community acceptance and use of the facilities and to underscore the importance of both girls and boys attending and profiting from educational opportunities.

Through efforts large and small, ChildFund Afghanistan is making a difference in human rights.

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