Gender Focal Points Coordination in Afghanistan: Facilitating Women’s Access to Justice

Taloqan, Takhar, 3rd October 2018 – The Department of Women’s Affairs (DoWA) of the province Takhar conducted a coordination conference for 40 Gender Focal Points (GFPs), government officials and representatives of legal institutions as well as civil society organisations (CSOs). Participants came from Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan. The Afghan-German Cooperation’s programme for promoting the rule of law in Afghanistan (RoL) implemented and funded the meeting.

GFPs are actively involved women in their communities. Some of them work as teachers; others are members of local Shuras for women. GFPs work for the respective provinces’ DoWAs. They offer free legal advice to women in their communities and help with referring their cases to legal institutions. However, GFPs face difficulties hindering their work, such as lacking acceptance and understanding among relevant stakeholders (e.g. legal institutions, Huquq offices, the police and CSOs).

Regional conferences aim at overcoming these problems: GFPs get the opportunity to introduce their work to relevant parties and to create networks across provincial borders. Similar conferences took place in other Afghan provinces this year. Last week, 80 representatives from Huquqs, DoWA and CSOs from Balkh, Samangan, Baghlan, Jawzjan and Sar-e Pul attended another coordination conference.

A GFP from Kunduz states: “This conference is an achievement for Kunduz GFPs to be introduced to Takhar and Badakhshan GFPs. Coordination has improved and networks were created. We are very happy to work for women’s rights and proud to work as GFPs. We paved the way for women to have access to justice.”

Additionally, the Afghan-German Cooperation’s programme RoL provided legal training to 43 GFPs, community elders, women activists and DoWA staff in Balkh and Samangan. These shall help to improve GFPs skills to provide legal guidance and consultancy. “The training was very helpful. It gave us guidance on how to interact with and listen to the women. We also learned about how to take decisions, define the legal questions at hand and guide the clients”, one participant said.

To improve access to justice, RoL has been supporting GFPs since 2015, providing training in Balkh and Badakhshan. Due to the activity’s success, the programme expanded its efforts to the provinces Takhar, Samangan, Baghlan, Jawzjan and Kunduz.

The programme Promotion of the Rule of Law in Afghanistan (RoL) is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Minis-try for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The programme aims at ensuring the rule of law, a well-functioning judicial system and legal security in Afghanistan. To ensure legal security for all citizens, RoL has been supporting so-called Huquq bureaus which handled more than 77,000 civil cases since 2013. In the same time, to support higher legal education, RoL provided more than 30,000 books to law and sharia faculties, organised more than 150 courses on legal topics for stu-dents and lecturers and awarded more than 60 students with scholarships. RoL further trained al-most 13,000 police staff to carry out duties according to law. The programme also emphasises promoting women’s rights and strengthening their access to justice as well as the job market.

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