Men In Afghanistan, Inspired By He For She, Stand Up For The Women In Their Country


Ever since actress Emma Watson launched the He For She campaign for UN Women in late 2014, it has become he signature initiative to engage men in the fight for gender equality for our generation. It has become a worldwide phenomenon inspiring world leaders, Bollywood actors and sci-fi authors to understand that the male voice is vital in this growing discourse.

He For She isn’t just about men in powerful positions, however. The idea is that EVERY man should be an ally to women, and the place where we have seen it being most effective is in countries where women are at a distinct disadvantage socially compared to men.

When you take a look at the website, you can see that more than 300,000 men worldwide have joined this solidarity movement and it is growing everyday. There are countries you may not expect to be implementing this initiative which makes it all the more exciting.

One country where gender equality is greatly needed is Afghanistan. We saw not too long ago, around International Women’s Day in March, where a group of men marched through the streets of the capital Kabul wearing burqas to draw attention to the issue of violence toward women.

In mid-June, the He For She campaign officially kicked off in the country where local activists, government officials and dignitaries met with local residents in Kabul to talk about the role men can play in women’s rights in Afghanistan.


The slogan “A brave man stands for women” was used to send the message to the 250 people in attendance. The underlying message was that gender equality can’t be achieved unless men change the way they view women. It’s a major shift in tactics considering that up until recently, gender equality in Afghanistan has been framed largely as a cause taken up by women.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Taliban ruled the country, until the US invaded, defeated the terrorist organization and helped the country set up a democratic government. To think that Afghanistan would be allowing a feminist campaign 15 years would be unthinkable.

The He For She goal is to eventually have 1 billion men and boys pledge to work for gender equality around the world in their daily lives. Out of the 300,000+ signatures on the website, the majority are based in the US, and only 325 are from Afghanistan. The campaign wants to see 3000 men in total sign up in the country.

In the months leading up to the U.N. General Assembly, He for She plans to ramp up its presence in Afghanistan by launching in five other provinces—Herat, Mazar, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Bamyan—gaining endorsements from Afghan celebrities, and screening a documentary film telling human-interest stories depicting the plight of Afghan women, reports Yahoo. rates Afghanistan as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. In April, an Amnesty International report examined the persecution of activists and other champions of women’s rights not only by the Taliban and tribal warlords, but also by government officials. It called for authorities to work harder to prevent attacks and protect women’s rights activist.


This report was released after the horrific news of a young woman called Farkhunda who was brutally murdered after being falsely accused of burning the Koran. Her death spurred widespread protests throughout the country as women carried her coffin and marched in the streets while defending Farkhunda’s innocence and chanting for justice.

A women’s rights activist who spoke out about Farkhunda’s death at the time said it is important for men to be involved in this fight.

“Without men, it is not possible for women to get their rights. So these men and women were working together. But at the same time, women need to step forward for their rights,” said Selay Ghaffer, 32, is a women’s rights activist and spokesperson for the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, a small political party based in Kabul that fights for issues such as democracy, social justice and women’s rights.

“If I should not do it, if another sister is not doing it, then who will do it? Who will get the rights for us? We have to struggle for it. If we keep our silence, more Farkhundas will be killed in this country,” she added, echoing words similar to Emma Watson’s in her He For She launch speech “if not me, who? If not now, when?”

He For She launching in Afghanistan is not just a great idea, it is timely and necessary. We hope to see many more men in countries where women are still fighting for basic rights, stand up for their sisters, mothers, daughters, friends and loved ones.