The campaign calls on people around the world to wear a green scarf to show their support for Afghan women. Green scarves are the symbol of the Afghan Women’s Network, a leading women’s organisation in Afghanistan, whose members wear green scarves as a show of strength and unity.
Other UK celebrities supporting the campaign include the Actress Dame Helen Mirren, model Laura Bailey, singer Paloma Faith, lawyer Miriam González Durántez and actors Anna Friel, Miranda Richardson, Riz Ahmed and Juliet Stevenson.
The protection of women’s rights was promoted as a positive outcome of the international intervention which began on 7 October 2001, but the campaign says that there are mounting fears that the gains women have made are in danger of slipping away. There are now 2.7 million girls in school and women are back at work. But the number of women in the civil service has dropped from 31 percent in 2006 to 18.5 percent in 2010 and more than 87 percent of Afghan women have experienced some form of violence.
The Green Scarves campaign calls on world leaders to renew their promises to Afghan women at December’s Bonn Conference, which will set the course for Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal of international troops by the end of 2014. The campaign calls on world leaders to pledge that any political settlement with the Taliban and other armed groups will explicitly guarantee women’s rights; to ensure that women play an active role in any peace negotiations, and to renew efforts to improve women’s access to basic services, such as health and education.
Shazia Mirza said:
"All women have the right to feel safe, valued, and respected as human beings regardless of where they live and under what regime. They have the right to be educated and share the same freedoms as men. It’s sad that we have to fight for women to have these rights, but it’s important and vital that we do."
Hadiqa Kiyani said:
“For me the green scarf symbolises the fight back to demand the right of existence with dignity and honor and above all the right to be counted and never be pushed back into the abyss of darkness and oblivion. By wearing green scarf, I pledge to stand by all underprivileged women in Afghanistan in their quest not to be bullied and gain recognition as respectable citizens and human beings."
Samira Hamidi, director of the Afghan Women Network, said:
“Afghan women have made a lot of gains and achievements in the past 10 years. There are thousands of Afghan women who directly support their families on a financial basis. There are Afghan women MPs in Parliament. There is a Ministry of Women’s Affairs whose role is to focus on women’s welfare. There is a strong Afghan women’s movement speaking up for women’s rights. But fears still remain. One of the major concerns is the absence of Afghan women in discussions and decisions on peace. No negotiation or decision can be complete if half the population’s views are ignored.”
Women and men are being asked to upload photographs of themselves wearing green scarves and caps as part of an online photo petition to show they support Afghan women. The petition will be presented to William Hague before the Bonn conference. It will also be made into a solidarity photo wall that will be displayed outside the Bonn conference and erected outside – to remind everyone in the conference of the promises made to the women of Afghanistan. The campaign is supported by 17 aid and women’s rights organisations, including Oxfam, CARE UK, Women for Women International and Muslim Women’s Network UK. Women and men interested in supporting the campaign can upload a photograph of themselves at www.ch16.org.