April 2012 - Afghanistan
Parwan (Afghanistan) – 8 March 2012 – For the first time since the inauguration of the Women’s Community Learning Centre in Charikar (Parwan Province – Afghanistan) three years ago, the Centre celebrated the International Women’s Day. The celebration was an occasion to highlight the achievements of three years of intensive work in the Centre and its impact on the role of the students within their families and the community at large.
Among the participants of the celebration were not only the students and staff members – including the RET Programme Manager – teachers and co-workers, but also around 35 family and community members as well as the representative of the provincial Department of Women’s Affairs. For most participants, it was the first time that they heard of the existence of the International Women’s Day, dedicated to all women worldwide, which is a special occasion for women to gather and stand up for their rights and active participation in the society – in addition to the claims made by each woman throughout the year.
The celebration opened with speeches by the students, the teachers, the parents and other community members. All invited guests were warmly welcomed and Ms. Asma, the Headmaster of the Women’s Community Learning Centre, emphasised the fact that “the participation of women in the improvement and development of a community is equally important as the participation of male community members. Only a society in which women are treated equally to men and in which their rights are respected can develop”.
After the speeches, refreshments were served, allowing the participants to gather more informally and exchange their stories. Ms. Fatima, the mother of a student studying in Group D of the Centre admitted: “I am not shy to say that I learn daily many new things from my daughter who studies in the Women’s Community Learning Centre supported by the RET. I have never been more proud and happy than I am now when I see my daughter learn and develop daily since she started studying here. In fact, in order to allow our daughter to study in the Centre, we even moved from Kabul to Parwan. We really hope that the Centre will continue for many years to come.”
Later, in a closing speech given by Ms. Nargis, one of the students of the Centre, highlighted again the important role women play in their communities using the following metaphor: “Women are like candles – their lights illuminate the darkness around them.”