Inspiring Thursday: Sara Seerat

Sera Seerat was born in 1993 in Afghanistan and is deeply committed to women’s rights in her province, Kapisa, and in her country. She is now a journalist, owns a women’s centre and is actively involved in politics.

Sara Seerat is an Afghan journalist committed to helping girls access education and the labour market, an honorary lecturer at Al-Biruni University and a member of the Youth Parliament. She was appointed director of the Kapisa Province Women Journalists Association and regional representative of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in 2016. In 2019, she joined the march of women from all provinces of the country demanding women’s rights and respect for the democratic constitution, negotiating with the Taliban. During the pandemic, she transformed her socio-cultural institute for women into a sewing workshop to make COVID-19 masks, which she then distributed for free. Finally, she won the Franco-German Human Rights Prize in 2020.

“As a women’s rights activist, questioning and answering is my right. Women are powerful, they will become more powerful when they are supported.” – Sara Seerat, for Amnesty International

Afghanistan and women’s rights

Afghanistan has been repeatedly portrayed as a dangerous and oppressive country when it comes to women’s rights. Their struggle against the Taliban and radical religion’s expressions limits women’s expression, access to health, knowledge, politics, and work. As Sara Seerat explains for Amnesty International about the situation in her province, “Some elements of human rights have improved in Kapisa though there are issues such as girls’ access to education and the right to free will which are much neglected. Poverty and unemployment have increased in the area along with incidents of so-called “honour” killings. There is also a significant imbalance in the proportion of the number of women with necessary education qualifications and employment opportunities for women. Despite continuous advocacy, women are yet to be offered key government posts. Also, there are no employment prospects for women with lower standards of education. Women in businesses find it difficult to sell their products in markets and bazars, unable reserve stalls for themselves.”

Despite the difficult situation for Afghan women, the journalist remains positive and looks forward as she says, “I believe that a lot more can be achieved with adequate funding and government support. And I hope that one day, they will be able to put an end to the discrimination and violence faced by women, and instead acknowledge women’s achievements, and give more priority for women especially in rural districts to voice their opinion.”

“For many years, I worked as a journalist to raise the voice of Afghans, especially Afghan women, but now our identity is being destroyed and nothing has been done by us to deserve this.” – One journalist, identified as Aisha, for The Guardian

More specifically, it is difficult to be a journalist in Afghanistan. It is even more difficult to be a woman and a journalist in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who are very hostile to press freedom and women in public office, often threaten women journalists with rape, kidnapping and death. Women who have worked for 20 years to amplify the visibility and voices of Afghan women have seen their efforts ruined since the terrorist group took Kabul. Twenty years of hard work is threatened just as activists had finally made it to the media scene.

Free speech and expression

At the end of this Thankful Thursday, I would like to mention that it was difficult to find information about Sara Seerat, even though she is a very inspiring woman, is seen in the public sphere and has done a lot for women’s rights and the position of women in Afghanistan. It was also difficult to find information about her peers. Information is not available everywhere and not everyone has the right to be heard in the public arena as much as others. It is good to remember that, despite all the recent problems related to media and social networking freedoms, Europe is lucky to still have free and safe spaces to express oneself and live.

In recent news, with the Taliban taking over the country, WAVE Network encourages you to learn more about the issue and supports women and girls in Afghanistan.

Written by WAVE Intern Raphaelle Jouannic

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