Who We Are
Fatana Gailani, Founder, Afghanistan Women Council
Ms. Fatana Said Gailani, who comes from an influential family of Kabul, has become one of the most prominent advocates of Afghan women's rights. After she sought refuge in Pakistan in late 1978 due to her opposition to the Communist regime of Noor Mohammad Tarraki, she began her humanitarian work in 1980 by providing medical assistance for Afghan refugees. Mrs. Gailani founded the Afghanistan Women Council (AWC) in 1986 and started its activities for human rights, women's rights, children's rights and peace building in 1993. The main objective of the organization is to enlighten women, improve their living conditions, and strengthen their socio-economic status in society by their multi-lateral involvement in developmental activities.
The AWC is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-sectarian organization and is not affiliated with any political party. It was established in Peshawar, Pakistan, to serve Afghan refugees. After the regime change in 1992 AWC opened an office in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2001 AWC moved its head office to Kabul with regional offices in Kandahar and Jalalabad.
AWC runs the Ariana School, the Mother and Child Health Clinic in Peshawar, which provides education and medical care to refugee families, and the Nazo AnaClinic, a 20-bed hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, that kept its doors open throughout all five years of the Taliban regime. AWC also manages humanitarian relief efforts for newly-arrived refugees and publishes the monthly journal, Zan-e-Afghan (Aghan Women) to mobilize women to bring peace and stability to the country.
Mrs. Gailani represented Afghan women at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995 and at the 1997 Post-Beijing Follow-up Conference in Thailand. She has traveled to various countries around the world to participate in workshops, seminars, conferences, meetings and presentations of human rights, women's rights and refugee rights and attended management courses. She lived 20 years in Pakistan and 3 years in Switzerland as an Afghan Refugee. She received death threats from the Taliban and in 1999 Amnesty International issued an urgent action bulletin calling for her enhanced protection.
International recognition for the AWC includes:
The Best Active Women for Women Affairs from the Ministry of Women Affairs
The Best Active Women for Women Affiars from the Great Masood Foundation
Ambassador for Peace Award from Universal Peace Federation (USA)
The U.S. Women's Commission for Refugees Women & Children Award in 1992
Prince of Asturias Award (Spain) for International Co-operation in 1998
The United Nations Association of Spain's Peace Award in 1999
Empty Handed Champions of Human Rights (Spain) in 2000
Ariana School provides a high quality education from grades 1 through 12 where Afghan girls in exile in Pakistan can learn alongside their brothers. Over 2,000 children are enrolled with a professional faculty of 65 Afghan women teachers, working in 2 shifts. Although some pay tuition, increasingly, many pay nothing.
Journalism and teacher training is provided for grade 12 graduates.
Courtesy Deborah Copaken Kogan
Mother and Child Health Clinic
Located in Peshawar, Pakistan, this clinic was established in 1986 to serve the needs of Afghan refugees. Obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, family planning and general care are administered there. The clinic also runs lab for medical testing and a pharmacy. A mobile clinic for refugees in the camps provides vaccinations on a monthly basis, medicine and first aid. Resources are severely stretched with an influx of new patients since mid-October, 2001. MCHC is operating at more than capacity with shortages of medical supplies. Common medical problems of refugee women and children in the camps of Peshawar include severe dehydration owing to contaminated water, malnutrition in 3 out of 10 children under 5, and significant debilitation in mothers of newborns, leaving them unable to produce breast milk and late-term pregnancies spontaneously aborting, leading to loss of blood and accompanying anemia. MCHC treated over 100,000 women and children between 1992 and 1999.
Publication of this 8-page journal takes place monthly. Information on human rights abuses in Afghanistan is gathered and conditions of the refugee camps are reported on. Ideas and suggestions of national personalities, intellectuals and others regarding the solution of the Afghan problems are presented. Goals are:
To inform Afghan women of the human rights abuses taking place
To raise awareness of the plight of women and children in the refugee camps
To protect and support women's rights and prestige in the community
To persuade, encourage and mobilize Afghan women in bringing peace and stability in the country
To make women aware of their responsibilities towards the miserable condition of Afghanistan
To try to unite Afghan women in defending their rights
The publication, in the official languages of Dari and Pushtu, is distributed to Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, USA, United Kingdom, France, Iran, Norway, and is also sent to Afghanistan.
Nazo Ana Clinic
Located in Kabul, the Nazo Ana Clinic kept its doors open throughout all five years of the Taliban regime. It is a 20-bed hospital serving the needs of Afghan Women and children.