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02 February 2011

Independence for medica mondiale in Afghanistan: Founding of Medica Afghanistan

We finally made it: at the beginning of this year medica mondiale Afghanistan became an independent non-governmental organisation. The individual Afghan projects run by medica mondiale had been growing ever closer since the start of the organisation’s work in the country in 2002, and this has now developed into a courageous and capable women’s rights organisation to be known as Medica Afghanistan - Women Support Organisation. The name was chosen to express the close connection to its sister organisation in Cologne, Germany.

medica mondiale will continue to support Medica Afghanistan in Kabul with funding and advice. Furthermore, a representative of medica mondiale will sit on the board of Medica Afghanistan together with four members selected from the Afghan civil society.

The foundation of Medica Afghanistan marks the achievement of one of the fundamental aims of the organisation: empowering women all over the world to go their own way. Among other measures, this involves helping women to establish support structures for other women in their countries, with the responsibility passing over to the local management after a certain period.

Medica Afghanistan is the fourth women's project initiated by medica mondiale to gain independence, after Medica Zenica (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Medica Kosova (Kosovo) and Medica Tirana (Albania). Since 2006, colleagues in Cologne and Kabul had been working intensely on important measures to enable the independence of Medica Afghanistan, including the structural build-up of the organisation and relevant training for the Afghan women so they could gradually take over leading positions. Strategies and detailed tasks have been determined and values defined for the work of Medica Afghanistan. The new Afghan non-governmental organisation’s aims and objectives include:

“It is the aim of Medica Afghanistan to offer direct support to women and girls affected by war and other forms of violence. Furthermore, it is the aim of the organisation to provide training in expert and sensitive handling of traumatised people affected by violence for qualified workers in the areas of psychosocial counselling, health, education and legal assistance. This should ensure that the services provided will better suit the needs of women and girls in Afghanistan."  

The last two years in particular were characterised by preparations for the transition to an independent women's rights organisation. One important decision in this regard was the nomination of Humaira Rasuli as Director of medica mondiale Afghanistan in 2010. For the first time an Afghan colleague took over the management of the organisation.

The newly founded organisation with its current staff of 75 will have a lot to do in 2011. The successful work of the past years will be continued. Additionally, in the middle of the year it is planned to include a further city, Mazar-i-Sharif, in the programs to provide psychosocial assistance and legal support from a social worker.

The foundation of the new Afghan women’s rights organisation is more than just an important step for medica mondiale: it also sets a positive sign for women and girls in an Afghan society shaped and dominated by men. That has to be a good reason to hold a small feast: in early March there will be an official celebration in Kabul for the foundation of Medica Afghanistan.  

The building of Medica Afghanistan has been supported by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (zivik programme).