Help, help and help. This is what the Afghan women in exile who recently founded the Afghan Women Parliamentarians and Leaders Network (AWPLN) are doing. For these women, fleeing from the Taliban is not synonymous with capitulating, but with resisting.
“Although we left our home, we could not abandon our responsibility,” Nazifa Bek, president of AWPLN and Afghan parliamentarian, explains to GLM that she has not stopped working with her colleagues since they arrived in Athens in September 2021.
Homa Ahmadi, a founding member of AWPLN and a parliamentarian with more than 30 years of experience helping people in Afghanistan, wants to be the “voice of the people” and says that she has not stopped working because “it is in her blood”.
The proof of their perseverance is that the AWPLN was founded on December 22 by 20 women, and in less than a year they have grown to have 1,000 members of different ethnic groups working from different countries and have managed to meet with local politicians, MEPs and representatives from the ONU.
His routine consists of thinking, writing and helping other Afghans to adapt and find work in these new societies; language differences coupled with bureaucratic procedures make it very difficult for them to find a home or earn money.
The attitude of the host society is of vital importance in this. Bek, she feels welcome because the Greeks are “very friendly and open”.
However, on September 20 she will head to Canada, where other Afghan women parliamentarians have already moved and from where they plan to set up an AWPLN office.
Another of her goals is to get international support for all Afghans and especially for women who have lost their rights and cannot even study. For that reason, they have created online courses.
Not everyone can leave Afghanistan, and that is why “the solution is not to help people leave the country, but to help them improve it,” says Parwin Hamakr, a women’s advocate against violence, a prosecutor against drug traffickers and AWPLN member.
THE DARKEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN
“August 15, 2021 is the darkest day in the history of Afghanistan, we never thought that the Taliban could return to power and we will never forget it,” Ahmadi cries sadly.
The Taliban emptied the country’s prisons, and the criminals that Hamakr helped imprison threatened her and her family, so she fled with her husband and two of her children; three others are still there and live locked up at home.
They also feel abandoned by the United States and Europe. They do not understand how countries that helped Afghanistan develop for 20 years suddenly decided to leave knowing the Taliban ideology.
On August 26, 2021, when an explosion at the Kabul airport left more than 170 dead, these three women were evacuated thanks to the work of Red Melissa, a Greek organization that helps immigrant women.
“We thought that there would be more help from the governments, but the reality is that there were very few people working on the ground,” says Nadina Jristopulu, founder and director of this network, and explains the difficulty of the evacuations due to the expiration of some passports and the birth of several babies during those days.
Jristopulu recalls how this group of women started thinking about organizing from the first day they arrived in Greece: “It was an incredible moment; they had just come back from a traumatic trip and were already thinking more about helping Afghanistan than about their own basic needs.” .
THE FUTURE OF AFGHANISTAN
Both Bek and Ahmadi and Hamakr see the future of their country as dark; They say that people have no hope and that if they have destroyed everything in a year, it is unimaginable what they can do in the future.
Homa Ahmadi comments that the Afghans can hardly oppose, since neither the parliament nor the UN missions are functioning anymore and the Taliban “kill many people on a daily basis”.
“The poverty and humanitarian problems are enormous, the situation is very bad, people need food but they have nothing to eat,” says the Afghan politician.
But not everyone has lost hope. Nazifa Bek’s 10-year-old son wants to become president of Afghanistan to help all Afghans improve their lives.