News conference to hear from women’s representative to Afghanistan’s historic constitutional talks

News Release

MONTREAL – January 21, 2004 – Journalists interested in Afghanistan’s troubled constitutional process are invited to Rights & Democracy this Thursday, Jan. 22, for a presentation by Palwasha Hassan, one of 100 women delegates at the recent Loya Jirga in Kabul.

Ms. Hassan, a 34-year-old native of Kabul who heads Rights & Democracy’s office there, is in Canada to discuss her recent experiences as a representative of Afghanistan’s women at the constitutional Loya Jirga, or Grand Council, held in Kabul between Dec. 10 and Jan.4.

Rights & Democracy’s Kabul office was opened in October, 2002, as part of the Canadian government’s commitment to promoting the rights of women under Afghanistan’s interim government. Since then, Ms. Hassan’s major priority has been to help ensure both women’s participation in the Constitutional process and the inclusion of lasting provisions recognizing human rights and gender equality. Ms. Hassan’s appointment as the head of Rights & Democracy’s Women’s Rights in Afghanistan project made her the first Afghan woman to head an international civil society organization’s mission in the country since the 2001 collapse of the Taliban government.

Ms. Hassan’s prior work as a human rights advocate in Afghanistan includes the founding of the Afghan Women’s Education Centre and the co-founding of the Afghan Women’s Network.

Her work on women’s rights in Afghanistan has had a major influence on policies concerning the rights of Afghanistan’s women. This influence was recognized by the United Nations Security Council in November, when its visiting delegation to Afghanistan called upon Ms. Hassan to provide a briefing on the state of women’s rights in the context of the Constitutional Loya Jirga.

The media conference takes place at 11 am on Thursday, Jan. 22 at Rights & Democracy, 1001 de Maisonneuve Blvd East (corner of Amherst St), Suite 1100, Montreal, Quebec. Conference call access for journalists outside of Montreal is available by calling 613-954-9003 and entering the passcode 1181#