So said the headline of the Vancouver Sun this weekend. “Women’s rights will be the first casualty of surrender in Afghanistan.” The article discusses Canada’s role in Afghanistan and makes the argument that those involved in the international conflict need to look beyond the desire to find the quickest exit strategy and instead take a stand for human rights. This article was written from the Canadian perspective, but you could easily substitute the United States, Sweden, Germany, or England, among the many involved in Afghanistan.
“Arguments surface today when we raise our voices about violence against women in other countries. We are told that violations of women’s rights are part of someone else’s culture, and that we have no business interfering. We should just mind our own affairs.
In fact, it is those of us inclined to believe that human rights are a Western invention who are most vulnerable to this argument. If the right to food and dignity is as cultural as casual Fridays at the office, it may indeed seem offensive to criticize others for alternative practices. But this is like suggesting that the need to eat is a peculiarly Canadian characteristic. The right to equal treatment, education, and freedom from violence are not specific to one culture. They are universal entitlements that are valued as ardently among Afghan women as our own.”
The words sent a chill through my spine. This is why I founded Mountain2Mountain. This is why I believe we can be catalysts for change. Its why I believe that the women and girls of Afghanistan are the solutions, not the just the victims.
We CAN be the change we wish to see in the world. We can insist upon human rights and gender equity for all, regardless of culture or geographic boundary. Not only CAN we. We MUST.
photo by Di Zinno