There is cause for some optimism on the improving status of women in Afghanistan, but progress is fragile and hard-fought according to the head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Dr Sima Samar.
Speaking during a recent visit to UTS, Dr Samar, founder of the Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education, said “a great achievement” was Afghanistan’s signing the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women without reservation.
In terms of the work of the Gawarshad Institute, Dr Samar highlighted the importance of gender empowerment through the provision of scholarships for young women from poor families who could not otherwise afford to access higher education.
Since the 2013 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gawarshad Institute, UTS has assisted in fundraising for scholarships and Dr Samar’s visit had refocused that effort, according to Associate Professor Nina Burridge from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Associate Professor Burridge said UTS education academics had also conducted joint research with the institute and would continue to work with UTS Luminary and current UTS Law PhD student Nasima Rahmani, who is Director of the Women’s Empowerment Centre at the Gawharshad Institute.