Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Long way to go....

Wazhma Frogh: The 2009 International Woman of Courage Award recepient by the State Department!!!

On Wednesday 11 March 2009, I recieved the 2009 International Woman of Courage Award from United States First Lady, Michelle Obama and the Secretrary of State, Hillary Clinton. I was part of 8 women delegation that came from different parts of the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Guatemala, Niger, Yemen, Malaysia,Russia and Tajikistan. These 8 women were selected amongst almost 800 nominees from all countries around the world. It was quiet an honor for a young Afghan woman to stand there and once again prove to the world that Afghan women are not passive and victims of their oppressed society but can make their own destiny.

I was told that i was selected based on a thorough assessment of the USAID and US embassy in Afghanistan and based on my work on promoting and advocacting for women's human rights related to domestic violence, and child sexual abuse and child rapes in the country.

While speaking to the First Lady and Secretary Clinton, i said that this award isnt for my work but for the women of Afghanistan who are still fighting inequlity with very few or no options. Sometimes these struggles end our lives but we continue. For the past 12 years of my work, i have always beleived that i wont do the work for the women and children but i can raise their voices national and to the world, and create opportunities so that every woman can stand for herself and speak for herself. That is the reason that in the recent years i have shifted into an international level advocacy at the UN and other platforms to bring in women's perspectives into Afghanistan's security and governance. I recently participated in the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York and advocated against the lack of attention given to women' voices when it comes to security and 'negotiations' with the militants. Its the women that pay higher price for militantancy so they have to be included in the discussions on fighting or negotiating with militants. This is was also the concluding message i had for the First Lady, Mrs.Obama as well.

I think there are alot of women in Afghanistan that deserve to be recognized, and awarded but i accepted this award on behalf of Afghan women, who share a more common identity than anyone else in this country. During the whole two weeks meetings and discussions, i had the opportunity to speak with different Bureaus that were collecting inputs on the US Afghanistan Strategy and i am glad that i was able to contribute to it, promoting the message that military solutions are not the only way to fight terror in the region or in Afghanistan, we need to fight with the hunger and poverty.