A speech given by a GEST fellow at the International Women´s Day Conference

Fatima Khurasani, one of the 2010 GEST fellows from Afghanistan, gave a speech at the International Women´s Day Conference at Reykjavik City Hall on 8 March. In her speech, on women in war and peace, she focused on women in Afghanistan . Fatima gave a historical overview of how women’s lives and decision making power have been affected by different political regimes. For example, during the rule of King Amanullah (1919-1929) women were made to unveil; during the rule of the Mujahidin, women were seen as property and symbol of honor; and during the Taliban rule, women were made to wear the Burka and denied formal education. At the end of her talk Fatima noted critically that although the official discourse today is centered on women’s rights, most men who now promote gender equality do not necessarily do so out of personal conviction but rather because it is the politically correct thing to do during times of social reconstruction under the supervision of the international forces.