Lina Abirafeh's notes from the roundtable discussion in June

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Joined: 30 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:07 am    Post subject: Lina Abirafeh's notes from the roundtable discussion in June Reply with quote

Once again, thanks to Lina for sharing these notes:

Post-conflict and negative attention working group

Representatives from CARE, CRS, DAI, Chemonics, USAID, GAA, Rubia, etc.

- "I've been pushed a lot to work with women and women only but you can't work with just women. The more you work with women the more the men get annoyed."
- Story of Afghan male staff of NGO who said "find jobs for men first and then we'll talk about women" (Jalalabad)
- Fostering environment that promotes empowerment of female staff is very hard (Herat/Ghor)
- Getting buy-in from international staff is difficult… they aren't always convinced
- "Backlash in what we have thought is appropriate response to gender/women issue"
- How are we able to promote an equitable approach to ensure acceptance and buy-in?
- Men use the language because it sounds good and its what they think we need to hear
- What is appropriate approach, esp in p-c societies and even more where women are segregated - makes it even more difficult
- "Need to look back at history and learn from it. The women's issue brought down a monarchy and as a result the women's issue wasn't touched for 40 years"
- "Need more in-depth analysis and we need to look at what we're doing and turn it around before a backlash becomes inevitable"
- It's all very well to say the Taliban is behind the violence and backlash but we need to look deeper…
- We haven't done the studies we need to do to understand Afghan society
- We bring our own perspectives too
- Policies are developed by the voices that are heard… and those are not representative of women in Afghanistan
- "Policy that was set for US to free Afghanistan was to 'liberate' Afghan women from the bourka"
- We don't even know how to target to make change in the family
- "We don't spend enough time understanding. We need to build trust, we didn't do that. Go back to history and see what went wrong. They went out aggressively to bring reform with women, whatever regime it is - Soviet, American, etc."
- We have targets in year 1 but it takes at least 3 years to get something done
- "I'd love to change USAID but until I run it, that's not going to happen"
- Why is there ongoing insecurity in Afghanistan? How do communities perceive us? Lack of sustainability
- We should not sit on our laurels and feel happy b/c Afghans are happy with NGOs. They are not.
- "A lot of money promised hasn't reached them. A lot of promises made haven't been met. Today, four years down the line, we have done very little."
- "It's not a p-c environment anymore. It is one where new tensions have been created"
- US rhetoric: "we are going to be your savior. We are going to deliver liberation. Poof! But we were not at all prepared to deliver on what we're saying. And if we don't, we are creating new tensions"
- Rhetoric is largely for the American public. But it is problematic that the whole world hears it - raises expectations and provides false hopes
- Local people are suffering rhetoric fatigue

Notes from presentation for group:

Post-conflict dynamic:
- Security constraints
- Short-term focus
- Limited funding
What negative attention and effects this may have…

Idea of backlash:
Why are girls schools being burned?
Are we facing situation that is creating new tensions?
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Joined: 30 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 4:00 am    Post subject: Vic Reply with quote

Sunday October 1, 2006
From Sara Buchanan. Please respond to Sara at

Since today has been declared a "white city" and tomorrow will likely as well, many people will not be able to attend the meeting tomorrow. In light of this, I propose that we postpone the meeting until next week, Monday, October 9 at 9:00am.

Some have suggested that we use the meeting to develop or lend support to a declaration denouncing the murder of Safia Amajan. Let me know your thoughts on this.

More broadly, I think we should take some time to discuss how security issues are affecting our work and women's participation. So, for next week, if you each could set aside some time to put together information about which of your activities involving women have been curtailed due to security, how your organizations retains women staff in difficult areas, and any other thoughts on women's participation and security, then bring this information with you. Hopefully, through this discussion we can have some documentation of how security is impacting our work (I know that women's activities are often first to be closed) and strategies for overcoming security problems that might otherwise preclude women's participation.

Kindly contact me if you have any thoughts or ideas.

See you next week,

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