Since United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador and actressEmma Watson launched the HeForShe campaign in September 2014, a tremendous amount of interest in the world of feminism has been generated. Not only America and England started buzzing about equal rights for all genders, the rest of the world also followed suit. Feminine power is taking the world by storm - even in countries like Afghanistan, where gender inequality is enforced under the veil of religion.
The Taliban's fierce rule, and the dreadful history surrounding feminine rights in Afghanistan have caused major inequality issues in the country. Despite the Islamic fundamentalist political movement's five-year long reign ending in 2001, the repercussions of the Taliban's time in power continue to influence the daily lives of countless women in Afghanistan. Islamic scriptures contain laws that apply only to women. Many fundamentalist Afghan men fear that abandoning these laws in favour of equality would strip them of their social standing. It is extraordinary that the HeForShe campaign was implemented in such a patriarchal society, and that some support has already been mustered. It may take some time before it starts to make a large scale impact, but the work is underway.
To kick off the United Nation's campaign launch in June 2015 in Kabul, a group of government officials, local gender equality activists and foreign dignitaries got together at a local high school. Activists used the slogan 'A brave man stands for women' while sharing stories on stage in an effort to show how important the male role is in defending women's rights. The group aimed at getting at least 3,000 signatures from men and boys from Afghanistan pledging their allegiance to the cause of standing up for women's rights. The ultimate goal is to get 1 billion signatures from men and boys all across the globe onto the HeForShe website.
Although the response has been better than expected, the campaign still has a very long way to go. As of the start of July the website had only 339,619 signatures, most of them from the United States. The sad statistic is that a mere 333 signatures are from Afghanistan, although this is not surprising considering the gender bias problems of the country. Despite the poor support thus far, HeForShe plans to continue pushing on and making a fantastic effort in Afghanistan. The ultimate goal of implementing a campaign like HeForShe in a country considered as one of the most dangerous places on earth for women is to create awareness of gender inequality issues. The message that the HeForShe campaign and its supporters wish to put across is that gender discrimination cannot be eradicated, unless men all around the world start changing the way they view women.
Through campaigns like HeForShe, change is happening. More and more men are coming on board to help fight for women's rights, even in countries like Afghanistan.