Benefit for Afghan women raises almost $2,000

By Kaori Inui

Fredericton had the third annual benefit for Afghan women, hosting over 100 people at the Charlotte St. Arts Centre on Saturday for a night of discussion and entertainment.

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, or RAWA, held the event to raise money and awareness of not only Afghan women but also women across the world, from Congo, Palestine to First Nations in Canada.

Other than performances, they had silent auctions of donated items, and the event raised $1,900 in total in the end.

The group is hoping to reach its goal of $2,000 by the end of this month.

Tracy Glynn, the organizer of the RAWA Benefit and Fredericton’s Peace Coalition, said it’s important to support the organization that improves life situations for women in Afghanistan.

“We feel that we want to support Afghanistan and we want to support the people that are trying to build democratic movements in Afghanistan,” Glynn said.

“Especially women and children are the most affected by the war and the occupation, so we want to support those local democratic movements. We feel very privileged that we are able to support them.”

RAWA was established in Kabul about 30 years ago. It campaigns for women’s rights, and also run schools, literacy programs, clinics, orphanages and refugee programs.

Headquarters is located at the border with Pakistan, because of safety issues of working in Afghanistan.

According to Glynn, RAWA reported on increased cases of self-immolation among women in east Afghanistan this month.

“Self-immolation involves setting oneself on fire in a desperate attempt to commit suicide. Suffering Afghan women lie in hospitals covered in burns and bandages. Forced marriages, domestic violence, poverty and lack of access to education are said to be some of the main reasons for suicides,” she said in press release.

RAWA also reported that 81 cases of self-immolation occurring this year in one hospital alone in east Afghanistan.

Theresa Lightfoot is a student who studies native studies and psychology at STU. She talked about Mi’kmaq women and women who are struggling in different parts of the world.

“Language and culture are so embedded in each other that if you don’t fight for the both, you are going to lose, they are going to die, and what the women in Afghanistan, a lot of struggles are roots struggles,” she said. “The two are so tied and interconnected that you can’t say they are not the same.”

Glynn says the event is getting bigger with more people participating every year. Next year, she is looking into having even more successful event with more money raised, but she says money is not only the most important part of it.

“I think even if they can’t financially support them, but they can support them just by getting educated at RAWA.org, it’s very important that people become educated so that they can further support Afghan women.

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