The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: March 13, 2002

Center for Human Rights joins in project to benefit Afghan women

The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) is joining with other local humanitarian groups to encourage local residents to "Walk So They Can Read" this spring to support the empowerment of women and girls in Afghanistan. The goal is to have groups of people gather for outdoor walks in solidarity with the women of Afghanistan who were forbidden from walking in public under Taliban rule and who can now begin to walk freely in the streets.

This project has been organized by the U.S. Committee for UNIFEM/USA, the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

Iowans are being asked to schedule walks between March 1 and May 31. Walkers, runners and bikers are asked to contribute a minimum of $5 each. Donations should be sent to UNIFEM, 1200 18th St. NW, Suite1100, Washington, D.C., 20036. In addition to individually organized walks, the UICHR is planning a community walk in late April.

For almost six years, Afghan women were completely removed from social, economic and political life and virtually all of their human rights were violated. Only 3 percent of Afghan women are literate. In Kabul alone, there are an estimated 50,000 widows and female heads of households. The majority of women have no access to clean water, energy, sanitation or health care.

UNIFEM is working in Afghanistan to highlight gender-equality and the active participation of women in the reconstruction efforts. The group is focusing on women's participation in peace building; women's leadership in the rebuilding of communities; strengthening women's economic and security needs; and the elimination of violence against women and the protection of women's human rights. UNIFEM has developed its strategy in consultation with Afghan women and in the context of the country's history and culture. Afghan women who have backgrounds in medicine, education, law and other skills will be a critical resource in assisting women to re-enter public and political life.

Local sponsors of "We Walk So They Can Read" are the UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR), the United Nations Association of Iowa (UNA-USA), and the Iowa City Human Rights Commission (ICHRC). For additional information, contact Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR associate director for community affairs and the Iowa coordinator for the UNIFEM/USA Spring Walk, (319) 338-1230 <> or visit the UNIFEM website to download the "We Walk So They Can Read" brochure <>.