22 June 2009

First female Shura in Wardak

Women from Jalrez District attending an all-female shura with representatives from Wardak Provincial Office of Women's Affairs and Coalition forces June 17. CJSOTF-A courtesy photo.

Jalrez district conducts first all-female shura
By US Forces Afghanistan Public Affairs Office

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Wardak Provincial Office of Women's Affairs assisted by the Afghan Public Protection Force held the first all-female shura in Jalrez district, Wardak province, June 17.

More than 150 women attended the event, where a variety of issues were discussed, including security, quality of life, religious concerns and civil liberties.

The Afghan Public Protection Program was commended by the group as the primary reason for improved security in Jalrez district, and the increased security provided by this force enabled the shura to occur.

The ever-improving security situation encouraged all participants to request additional all-female shuras to occur in other areas of Jalrez district.

The Afghan Public Protection Force provided security and conducted a humanitarian assistance distribution following the events. More than 100 pairs of shoes, 100 sets of women's and children's clothing and 100 soccer balls were distributed. Additionally, key female communicators attending the event received radios and Afghanistan flags.

It may not sound earth-shattering to us, but this is very important news. For centuries women have generally never been permitted to attend shuras, which are meetings of community elders like our town councils. And in areas under Taliban influence, women not wearing burkas and girls attending school are subject to gruesomely violent intimidation tactics.

Obviously, this is a victory for the women. But it's also a victory for U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in the province: The article gives credit to the Afghan Public Protection Program, which was created and mentored by U.S. forces. The concept is to give locals a hand up in creating the forms of civil governance we take for granted but are essential for a functioning society.

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