Development Gateway, 27 February, 2004

Interview with Mehmooda about RAWA

In this interview for Development Gateway (DG) Mehmooda, the spokesperson for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) talks about RAWA's activities, success stories and challenges.

Nadia Afrin

DG: What is the role of the RAWA and how does it cater to the needs of Afghan women?

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) is the oldest political/social feminist group, which was established in 1977 to struggle for equal rights of men and women in the society. Its founding leader was Meena who was assassinated in 1987 in Pakistan by KGB agents and fundamentalists.

Despite serious security and financial problems RAWA is mainly active in two fields, political campaigns (demonstrations, meetings, publishing publications, running its web site) to raise awareness on the plight of Afghan women.

To provide humanitarian assistance for women and children, RAWA is running schools, orphanages, literacy courses, handicraft making centres, mobile health care teams, income-generating projects, distribution of food and clothes among needy and displaced families, etc. Apart from refugee camps in Pakistan, RAWA's humanitarian projects are mostly run inside Afghanistan but not officially under the name of organization as it is not registered.

DG: What are some of your success stories?

To provide free and easy access education for hundreds of women and girls in different parts of Afghanistan, even in remote areas like Hazarajat, Takhar, Badakhshan, Farah, Nemroze, Kunar etc. We are proud of the fact that many women educated in the home-based classes became active RAWA members or playing an active role in their families and communities.

To run different projects (income generating projects) for widows. Besides providing education and health care facilities for beggars and prostitutes in Kabul. It is the only project of its kind in Afghanistan run by RAWA. It changed the mind of many of them and they started a new honourable life. This is one of the most important projects of RAWA that we are proud of it.

To treat and give care to hundreds of refugee women and children through our project "Malalai Hospital" in Pakistan.

To reach and help needy families inside the country and in refugee camps trough distributing foodstuff and clothes in emergency situations.

And many more..

DG: What are some of your major challenges?

The major challenges RAWA is facing is it's financial and security concerns while continuing all these activities. Unstable situation in the country on one hand and pressure from Pakistani government on the other hand. We are not sure for near future if we would be able to continue our humanitarian work in Pakistan.


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