On the 29th of November, we celebrate the International Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Day. For this occasion, we asked Fatema Jafari, a woman human rights defender from Afghanistan, to share her thoughts on what defending human rights means to her and what hopes she has for the future.
Fatema Jafari is a woman human rights defender from Afghanistan. As a member of the Herat provincial council, she worked to promote women’s rights and women’s political participation at the provincial and national levels. In 2017, Fatema wrote a book based on her experience, Women Political Participation in Afghanistan. She also took part in several peacebuilding initiatives.
Back in 2019, she was supported by ProtectDefenders.eu to be temporarily relocated when she needed to escape attacks and threats by violent groups related to the Taliban in Afghanistan. It allowed her to be relocated to a safer environment, reflect on her life and activism, and eventually develop new skills. She now studies Peace and Development at Bradford University (UK).
How does your work relate to human rights?
I was always fighting for basic human rights starting with establishing a home school for children of unregistered Afghan refugees who were deprived of their education rights in Iran until fighting for people’s rights as their representatives in the Herat provincial council. As a woman, I tried to be the voice of my fellow women to claim rights of freedom, equality, social and political participation, access to justice, etc in a patriarchal society and prevent all kinds of violence against women.
What does defending human rights mean to you?
I think I am a warrior in this world to fight for myself and for others who are deprived of their human birthrights, the ones who are suppressed and marginalized by society, culture and governments. In my fight for human rights, I learned and acquired strong beliefs in freedom, equality and justice and hard work. They are the things that I want to teach my children.
How would you say that defending human rights help your community and others?
I believe every effort to defend human rights is like a snowball and it has its effect on the community. Only this snowball should be big enough to remove obstacles to freedom, equality and justice. So, we need to work harder and harder to make positive changes happen in our communities.
What would you like to see in the future for yourself and your community?
I want peace for my country, Afghanistan. I am studying peace and development and I hope to use it in the future to help my country. Although I got frustrated when the Taliban prevailed in Afghanistan, I think our responsibility now is more than ever to stand stronger and shout louder to fight for our rights in Afghanistan.