0828 afghan women letter fi

Women in Afghanistan have been urging for an end to the war since it began about four decades ago.

by Najiba Ayubi

Over decades, the issues of women in Afghanistan have constantly been the subject of brawl and controversy. In the past hundred years, the socio-political movement and the participation of Afghan women have mediated to been slow but steady; however, if we leave out the five years of the Taliban-ruled administration, during which, the Afghan women were deprived of their social and political rights, access to education and jobs, and their participation in the social and political arenas was invisible.


The last two decades were remarkable and productive for Afghan women. During this period, Afghan women were able to shine in all aspects of life and to heavily contribute in the rebuilding of their war-torn country. They have succeeded to actively participate in the social, political and economic sectors and have gained substantial achievements within and outside the government administrative structures.


Despite the ongoing war, conflict and insecurity, Afghans, particularly Afghan women have espoused difficulties and have gone through severe hardships and unjust walking through blood and fire, they have made their ways to the peaks of empowerment and progress, and now, only few workplaces can be found without women’s presence.


The Afghan nation is tired and exhausted of the unending forty-year war in the country. Enduring four decades of war, Afghans need peace and security more than ever. The injuries of the war-torn nation need to be healed, and a peaceful life is an unalienable right of the Afghan nation. From times onward, warring parties and international partners of the Afghan government have been putting efforts in bringing the longest-running war of the country to an end.


The United States, for instance, signed a peace pact with the Taliban in late February 2020, and earlier in 2012, the Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Afghan government.


Despite the debates at national and international level over bringing the never-ending war of Afghanistan to an end, the stories of war and violence across the country including the capital town of Kabul is heard and witnessed.


People of Afghanistan are less optimistic about peace because they do not see it real and factual. Anywhere in the world, when warring parties decide to go for peace negotiations, the first step they determine is to decrease conflict and hostility and agree upon temporary or permanent ceasefire. In Afghanistan, on the contrary, violence and crimes increase across the cities.


What is considered to be important for the Afghan nation at this stage, is to end the country’s longest conflict and to find a common solution to bring lasting peace with dignity in the form of establishing a state in which everyone can see themselves. But unfortunately, the preliminary signs of a bright and hopeful future are hard to see.


In the current situation when people of Afghanistan are concerned about the high level of uncertainty, women are more concerned about their future and achievements they made in the last two decades. Women in Afghanistan are moving forward through more cohesive and united movements and every day, they try to achieve more cohesion and unity.


Since the intra-Afghan negotiations clutched the headlines, different groups of Afghan women have come up with concepts and ideas which are focused on the needs to support women’s achievements and efforts over the past years. They have shared those concepts with the negotiating team with the ambition that a rational and national solution to achieve the goals and demands of women in the peace process, is essential.


One of women’s major activities in the past week was to write an open detailed letter to the Taliban.


Afghan women, who are now active in almost all social and political spheres, have the right to be sensitive and to maintain their multi-year achievements, wrote in a letter to the Taliban:


“For the past two years, Afghan women are carefully observing the ongoing peace negotiation process in Afghanistan, like millions of our fellow citizens, we hope that the process can bring the nearly 40 years of conflict in our beloved Afghanistan to an end. We, women, have borne the brunt of the four decades of conflict. As wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters we have suffered terribly, we have been subjected to the brutality and violence of war; we have borne witness to the endless suffering of our families and our people. We, perhaps more than anyone, seek an end to this senseless war. Yet, we, like the vast majority of Afghan women and men, worry that the price of peace may be too heavy if we lose the vitality of more than half of our population and the essential gains achieved over the last two decades.”


Afghan women who have had the bitter experience of being deprived of education during the Taliban regime have voiced their concern in this letter by saying the following:


“In Afghanistan, women continue to be the largest illiterate population. In addition, 80% of our girls are forced into early marriages at a very young age, a tradition more common in areas under your influence. While in other Muslim nations women are thriving as successful leaders, politicians and policy makers, actively improving the lives of their fellow citizens, while, in Afghanistan we are still fighting to be recognized and respected as equal and capable citizens. Muslim women across the Muslim world – in Tunisia, Morocco, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Jordan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Senegal, Mauritius, even Pakistan and in many others – are enjoying freedom of movement, access to education, employment and access to services, but we are still fighting for our survival.”


A century back, when Queen Suraya established the formal education of women in the country, until now, scores of women, with higher education, have been able to give a different picture of the Afghan women to the country and to the world.  Status of women and their social and political participations have seen a great change, which cannot be ignored.


Considering the developments in the world and in Islamic countries, Afghan women have been trying to carefully maintain their effective presence in any situation in a bid to build a peaceful Afghanistan and to demonstrate their ability to form a peaceful life. In their letter to the Taliban, Afghan women wrote:


“We will not allow our place and contributions towards rebuilding our country to be erased or reversed. More than ever we celebrate our capacity to contribute to the wellbeing of our society. We will not allow the potential, talent, the rights and dignity of our daughters and sons to be stripped once again for political gains and posturing.”


Women in Afghanistan have been urging for an end to the war, conflict and insecurity since the beginning of the war (about four decades ago).


Now that peace process and peace negotiations have hit the headlines, they expect this process and the parties involved to be honest with the people of Afghanistan and not to sacrifice the future of the Afghan people for their political interests. Afghan women call on the warring parties to allow a lasting and dignified peace to be established in the country.

0827 indu ramesh

Indu Ramesh was a longtime IAWRT member, beloved by those who met her and worked with her

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) extends our sympathies to the loved ones and friends of Indu Ramesh who we have come to know passed away due to COVID-19.

“I am so sad to report that IAWRT member Indu Ramesh has died of COVID-19. in hospital in Bangalore, India. She and I met at the IAWRT conference in Delhi in 1999. She was a retired producer for All-India Radio, an author, and a longtime contributor to WINGS. And a good, close friend. Here is a photo I took of her at her home in 2015. She is talking to her neighbour Smita Ramanathan, whom Indu trained to be an excellent radio producer, too,” shared Frieda Werden, co-founder of WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service and IAWRT member from Canada.


Indu was ten years old when the country got Independence. She remembered Independence Day and things that happened before that. After completing her school education in Kannada medium in government schools across small towns all over the princely state of Mysuru, she studied Sociology and English Literature in the Maharaja’s College, Mysuru.


Writing was her passion and her first article was published in a well-known Kannada newspaper when she was just fifteen. She wrote many articles and short stories in Kannada and English.


She worked for more than thirty years with All India radio, retiring as Station Director, Commercial Broadcasting Station (Vividh Bharati), Bengaluru.


Under her directorship, the station won Best Station award twice in a row. Retirement was said to have honed her passion for radio.


She also produced programs for international news agency WINGS. Her radio show for WINGS on tribal women, “Forest Women Dwelling In India won an honourable mention at an international media competition.


Indu was known to be passionate about traditional Indian food and feeding friends and family.


Nonee Walsh, IAWRT member from Australia, shared a book Indu wrote and launched in 2017. Nonee said of the book, “A cookbook for every house, with a lot of stories about our favourite food items and tips to take care while cooking, published by Geetha Book House, Mysuru.”


Indu also wrote a novel in English “Four Tales and A Lifetime.” In this book in Kannada, she wrote about her battle with Guillain Barre Syndrome titled ‘Mrutyorma Amrutangamaya,” and a biography on Lakshmiiji, the founder of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Annsandhana Samsthana.




Indu hosted Nonee and Frieda in Bangalore in 2015 and after Nonee got back home, her book club read the book based on Indu’s life and some of her friends.











In September 2019, the Mitra Tantra Archive of Personal Narratives and Oral Histories published 81 short videos (from 20 seconds to 3 minutes) of Indu where she shared details and stories of her life.



Indu’s family posted this on her death:

“When I die, make sure you post the news on Facebook so that my friends know about it,” she had said. So here it is…Indu Ramesh was grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, wife, sister and a dear dear friend to so many.  Radio person, author of several books, embroiderer, painter and maker of pickles, she was tech-savvy enough to communicate and shop online when she couldn’t go out on her own. She was an extremely good host and loved to feed people. She held strong opinions, and lately, did not hesitate to make them heard!  Most of all, she had a fighting spirit, overcoming challenges that would have flattened a lesser spirit.  Indu Bai Ramesh passed away at 9:54 am on 26th August 2020 after a battle with Covid.  We will miss her.

Indu turned 82 in July.

0825 iawrt usa uganda

Exploring the Unique Opportunity Gap in the Covid19 Abnormal Normal

IAWRT USA and IAWRT Uganda holds workshop on August 28, 10am ET


COVID-19 is one inevitable challenge that has hit hard globally. Different from other global challenges, the pandemic and its effect has overwhelmed global emergency plans. The media however had to be at the centre of all the panic, the need to provide as much information as possible to educate the public about the strange virus was the obligation of the journalists yet survival was a prerequisite.


Media houses just like other businesses in Uganda for example, panicked between remaining relevant and sustaining the cost of operation. This became so hard for media houses to operate normally in a strange abnormal environment, advertisers shut down, yet the major source of revenues is from advertisements which made it more complicated to sustain even the threshold bills.

The situation prompted sharp and deep costs cutting with the obvious ones relating to staff cut offs. The Newsroom became the immediate target with media houses shifting their dependency on government media centre as the source of news. This resulted into a big number of journalists losing jobs with the female journalists being the most affected since it’s hypothetically believed that women are more expensive to maintain as staff compared to their male counterparts. The traditional media houses cut salaries for the few staff retained, stopped and limited freelancers.

The panic survival has not only disrupted the routine of the media operations but also demand for the re alignment of the survival and relevancy of individual journalists especially the women journalists.

It is therefore important that female journalists get back to the drawing board virtually share experiences on the effect of the COVID-19 to craft new practical avenues of survival as well as relevance in the media industry. It is upon this background that IAWRT Uganda and USA Chapter hosts a socio-drama workshop: Exploring the Unique Opportunity Gap in the Covid19 Abnormal Normal: The Relevance of Female Journalists as Agents of Change.

Register here to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrcO6pqDgrHNZhWbvZMyQlPL6FY5caotVp


0819 cecilia

Cecilia Mwende Maundu, IAWRT Kenya Secretary General, shares digital safety tips

UN Women features Maundu in article posted on July 21, 2020

Cecilia Mwende Maundu is a broadcast journalist, video editor and filmmaker and also a digital safety trainer and consultant based in Kenya. Read the article featuring her in the UN Women website:




IAWRT published a profile on Maundu in 2018. Read more about her work as a digital safety trainer here:



0730 lifeline toolkit

Lifeline launched its advocacy toolkit

A practical resource that emphasizes that advocacy is possible even in restrictive contexts

The toolkit places the planning process within the context of risk assessment and mitigation, which is essential in these environments.  

“The COVID-19 crisis has increased authoritarian restrictions on civil society globally.  Though this toolkit was produced prior to the pandemic, the case studies included speak to a moment when advocacy  needs to navigate around such restrictions,” said the group in its website.

The toolkit includes: 

  •        A step-by-step guide for advocacy planning that stresses risk mitigation and intersectionality. 
  •        10 tactics that can be used in restrictive spaces including “Engaging with Unlikely Allies,” “Addressing Slander, Stereotypes, and Stigmatization,” and “Creative Cultural Resistance”. 
  •        16 case studies with real-world examples of how CSOs achieved success with their advocacy.
  •        Links to over 50 external resources related to advocacy planning and security.
  •        Annexes related to digital security, well-being, risk assessment, and stakeholder mapping to enable CSOs to prevent and mitigate threats at each stage of their campaigning.

The group said the toolkit is unique in the sense that it looks at advocacy where fundamental freedoms are restricted, includes real world examples with concrete impact, and incorporates risk mitigation as a core part of the strategy. Read more here.

A workshop was also held to explore effective advocacy in restricted spaces using the new toolkit. Watch below:



The Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund was launched with the support of 12 governments in June 2011 to push back against a global trend of closing civil society space.