More action needed on International Women’s Day


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/03/2022 (443 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As I write this article, it is International Women’s Day, and I have just returned from a breakfast marking this special day with a sombre reminder of the challenges women face in many places in the world.

The breakfast speakers focused on women’s stories from the front lines in Afghanistan. Sadly, the stories told were of the opportunities and rights being taken away from women. Under the Taliban, most girls are no longer allowed to go to school. Under the Taliban, women — even those who are highly educated with post-secondary education degrees, including doctors, lawyers, judges, and midwives — are not allowed to work. Too often women, particularly those from minority groups including Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Shia Muslim or Christian backgrounds, are being persecuted. It is a sad and very tragic change from the situation less than a year ago, when much greater freedom and opportunities were available to women in Afghanistan

The event was emceed by Victoria Romero, Sheva Schwartz and Anita Neville and the speakers included Kobra Arianta, originally from Afghanistan. She has relatives who remain in Afghanistan and want to come to live in Winnipeg to escape the incredibly difficult and dangerous conditions there. We also heard from Ariana Yaftali, a leader in the Afghan community in our province. She has been working closely with Hospitality House in helping to greet new refugees from Afghanistan and to help them in their transition to life here. Karen Gordon, of Hospitality House, spoke of the work she and her organization do daily to help refugees.

Ariana Yeftali, a leader of Manitoba’s Afghan community, spoke on the plight of women at an International Women’s Day event on March 8.

Lloyd Axworthy also spoke of the global situation. There are rapidly growing numbers of refugees, not only from Afghanistan, but many more recently from Ukraine. The infrastructure for helping refugees is based on what has been developed over many years but is now out of date. The global effort to help refugees needs to be improved and to be better supported financially. As one example, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees only has about one-third of the budget needed to provide services to those seeking refugee status. Because of this, the work of registering new refugees is significantly delayed. In his role as chair of the World Refugee and Migration Council, and co-chair of the new Manitoba Advisory Council on Immigration he is leading the way in calling for changes and improvements.

Thanks are due to all speakers and to the many who attended the breakfast to help bring to light the situation of women in Afghanistan, and the need to address globally the rights and opportunities of women.

Jon Gerrard

Jon Gerrard
River Heights constituency report

Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.

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