Empowering Afghan Women Shelter Providers through Training

On Nov 2- Nov 18, 2012 Clombo Plan organized a Study Tour and training in Malaysia for Afghan Women Shelter Providers from various shelters in Afghanistan. Ms. Suraya Pakzad executive director of VWO as interpreter and four other staff from VWO shelters as trainees participated in this training. The participants visited Ministry of Women Affair of Malaysia and two shelters in Kuala Lumpur and had training about VAW, Trauma, helping women in crisis and principles of women shelters.


Afghan women's perspectives on preventing a Taliban resurgence in post-war Afghanistan

December 4, 2012 - Washington, DC

On December 4, 2012, the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), in partnership with Congressman Keith Ellison, hosted a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill, "Afghan women's perspectives on preventing a Taliban resurgence in post-war Afghanistan". The Briefing was moderated by Daisy Khan, ASMA Executive Director and included three prominent Afghan panelists: Sajia Behgam, Dr. Massouda Jalal and Suraya Pakzad.

The attendance at the Briefing exceeded expectations. Seventy guests were expected to attend; however, there was standing room only and an estimated ninety guests filled the room. In addition, included in attendance were nine Members of the US Congress: Susan Davis, Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Nita Lowey, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Niki Tsongas, Jan Schakowsky, Jackie Speier. All Members of Congress had an opportunity to ask questions and provide brief remarks. They were deeply engaged and according to people on the Hill, it was unprecedented that 9 Members attended the Briefing, as typically 2-3 Members attend. This indicates many of you are very concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and especially the role of Afghan women.

The purpose of the Briefing was to discuss specific strategies that should be employed in Afghanistan, during the 2014 transition period, in order to empower women and prevent a retreat to the religious extremism that allowed terrorism to flourish over the past few decades.

Source: ASMA website: http://www.asmasociety.org/events/afghanbriefing.html

Science for Peace International Conference

Mrs. Suraya Pakzad participated in the “Science for Peace International Conference” in Istanbul, Turkey, in the first week of October 2012. She was invited to speak to the audience with regard to ‘Science and Civil Rights’ where she elaborated the importance of the subject. She emphasized on the use of innovative technologies to bring peace and prosperity for the humanity.

Female leader of the year

Suraya Pakzad, founder of the Afghan Women's rights organization 'Voice of Women' (VWO) was bestowed with the ‘Female Leader of the Year’ award in October, 2012. The award was given to her by the ASTRAIA Female Leadership Foundation, Germany.

The First Women Shelter in Ghor

The Ghor Women Shelter & Family Guidance Center started to function in the first week of November, 2012. VWO established this project with the financial assistance of IDLO/INL through Colombo Plan. Initially funded for two calendar years, the project holds invaluable importance for the women’s rights issues in the Western region. This province is extremely backward and under the influence of hardliners where gross violation of women’s rights is a norm. This project is an effort to implement the law of Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW); that has been signed by the President of Afghanistan in 2010 and it categorically describes the forced and childhood marriages as criminal acts and heavy punishments have been stipulated for the same.

The facility has been established and is completed in all respects; the residency shelter is admitting at-risk women through Coordination and Cooperation Committee (the CCC comprises of DoWA, Police, judiciary departments, AIHRC and other relevant CSOs). The family guidance center is providing legal counseling to families and individuals consult our legal advisors to resolve their family disputes.

Training Workshops (Women Shelter Project)

VWO technical team conducted a number of training workshops for the staff members of VWO, partners and stakeholders in Herat. The workshops were planned under the project activities as per the contract agreement with the donor agency.

Subjects such as Reduction of Violence against Women, Introduction of Shelter and its Protocol, Proper Registration and Follow up mechanism of the cases were covered by the experienced trainers during three sessions for each workshop. The participants were trained for the following:

  • Case identification criteria
  • Case referral mechanism
  • Case registration formats
  • Case history formats
  • Psycho-social counseling for individuals
  • Psycho-social counseling for families
  • Legal counseling
  • Legal assistance (follow up in courts)
  • Coordination with partners and stakeholders
Singapore Visit (Drug Addicted Treatment Centers)

The International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Agency (INL) of United States of America in collaboration with the Colombo Plan, held the annual meeting for Afghan stakeholders in Singapore between December 06 to 08, 2010. The VWO team, lead by the Executive Director, Mrs. Suraya Pakzad, also attended the event. Other members of VWO team included the coordinators of the treatment centers for Adolescents, Women and Children.

On the sidelines of the annual meeting, the participants were taken to exposure visits to various treatment centers for drug addicts in Singapore city.  In addition the participants also visited the Central Narcotic Bureau of Singapore (CNBS) where they were briefed on the standard of operations and  services provided to the treatment centers by the government of Singapore.

Participating agencies from Afghanistan presented their programs and activities that they implemented in 2010. They also shared the major challenges and problems with other participants and officials of Colombo Plan. A number of key decisions were made as a result of the group discussion held at the end of this annual meeting. The participants also shared their experiences and views with regard to the improvement of services provided to the drug addicts in Afghanistan.

Clinton Global Citizen Awards

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23: Leadership in Civil Society winner Suraya Pakzad speaks during the Clinton Global Citizens Awards at the conclusion to the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 23, 2010 in New York City. The sixth annual meeting of the CGI gathers prominent individuals in politics, business, science, academics, religion and entertainment to discuss global issues such as climate change and the reconstruction of Haiti. The event, founded by Clinton after he left office, is held the same week as the General Assembly at the United Nations, when most world leaders are in New York City.



Inauguration of the DAAT

Drug Amidst tight security, the Addicted Adolescent Treatment Centre (DAAT) in Heart Province was inaugurated by the Honorable Minister of Counter Narcotics, Mr. Zarrar Ahmad Muqbil, in the company of the Honorable Governor Herat, Mr. Ahmad Yousaf Nooristani on Sunday  August 9, 2010. A high level delegation of officials from Kabul and dignitaries from Herat also attended the ceremony. Representatives from International Narcotics & Law Enforcement (Donor of the project), Colombo Plan (Technical Facilitator) and US Embassy Kabul also added to the glory of the occassion. . Executive Director of VWO, Mrs. Suraya Pakzad, Honorable Governor Herat, Honorable Minister of Counter Narcotics and Head of Public Health Department, Herat, Mr. Rashid expressed their views.

The Chief Guest, Honorable Minister of Counter Narcotics and Honorable Governor Herat were much happy to listen to the story of a patient who told them that he was re-born in this clinic and can now look forward to a new life ahead of him.

The DAAT Centre that started providing services in March, 2010, has a contractual period of eleven calendar months. The clinic has the capacity of 50 beds and provides complete treatment and rehabilitation services on 24/7 basis. Patients are scheduled to go through two phases of treatment and rehabilitation each lasting for three months. The second phase engages them in vocational training and skill building in order to make them self-reliant and useful citizen.


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