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A reminder of our obligation to Women & Girls who are not yet in a position to be heard

I come from a family of four girls, and in my family it was imparted on us that girls could do anything. That girl’s voices should be heard.  That we were equal to the boys who lived next door, equal to the boys at our school, and equal to the man that we may one day marry (should we choose to marry and should that person be a male).

This was not done through any sort of formal teaching. My parents did not sit us down and hold tutoring sessions on “women’s rights” (that would have been weird).

An understanding of these rights were simply transferred through everyday actions of my parents during our development: Supporting our goals. Nurturing our self-worth. Celebrating our successes. Helping us understand and accept our disappointments or failings.

It was through these everyday lessons that we grew up believing we had the right to explore our potential, to make choices, and the right to be treated fairly and with respect at the same time – as did every other human being on the planet.

This week saw the release of a video that showed a woman being executed before a cheering mob of men.  It’s reported she was kneeling on the edge of a ditch, her back to her killer who stepped up just metres behind her and proceeded to shoot her more than 9 times with a rifle. The whole thing was filmed.

I haven’t seen the video myself – and I don’t intend to. I will not therefore be linking to it in this post.

The woman was a 22-year-old Afghan – her name was Najiba. The location – a village in Parwan Province just out of the capital Kabul (apparently a usually safe and quiet village).

The reason for the execution? The details are conflicting, but most reports state the woman had committed adultery.  She was reportedly married to a Taliban member and was accused of being in a relationship with a Taliban Commander.  The killers were Taliban members although the group has refused to take responsibility for the murder.

It is reported that she was not given opportunity to plead her case.

Regardless of the reason and regardless of who committed this inhumane and violent act, for me it’s most distressing that something like this can happen in a community where there is an international presence with a supposed strategic objective of protecting human rights.

Quite simply, it angers me that such violent acts towards women are occurring right under our noses.  Make no mistake, we have severely let down the women and girls of Afghanistan. We are failing to protect them from the volatile and violent conditions in which they live, and we have failed to adequately support the huge progress they have made towards equality in the last 10 years.

It saddens me as an independent woman who is free to live as she pleases with no judgment; to see the persistent oppression many women in the world face every single day.  For no reason other than because they were born female.

Today’s post isn’t to tell you to act, to tell you how to feel, to tell you what you should think. It’s nothing more than perhaps a timely reminder that we not only represent our sisters, our girlfriends, our daughters or our nieces when we make decisions or choices that encourage or uphold equal rights for women and girls. We are also representing the women of the world who are not yet in a position to be heard – for whatever reason that may be.

And as representatives of these women, when the opportunity arises we must actively support government policy that works towards protecting girls and women’s rights – not those just in Australia, but everywhere. And to support the countless non-profit organisations who work tirelessly to protect girls and woman from situations we could not even comprehend.

Because I truly believe that we will be better off as a world – economically, socially, environmentally, and politically – when all women are treated equal in every respect.

~ anna

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