I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to speak during yesterday’s debate on Afghanistan despite spending seven hours in the Chamber hoping to be called. It was very moving to hear speeches from fellow MPs from both sides of the House who have served in Afghanistan. The reality of the dangers, faced in particular by Afghan women, really hit home.
Women and children make up 80% of those forced to leave their homes. The words of Zarifa Ghafari, the country’s first female mayor, capture the risks at stake – “𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘮𝘦.” There were scenes this week of women being visibly erased from public spaces with the removal of posters and advertisements on shop-fronts, and heart-breaking videos of teachers saying goodbye to their young female students.
It is therefore an honour to sign this open letter to Afghan MP Elay Ershad, who has been a champion for women’s rights and democracy. She gave a powerful speech to the House of Commons in 2018. In the face of oppression, Ms. Ershad’s priorities remain clear – “𝘔𝘺 𝘫𝘰𝘣 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘮𝘺 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦”. We stand in solidarity with the courageous women of Afghanistan.