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The Mary Foundation awards its special donation to a women’s shelter in Afghanistan

There is a secret location in Kabul where 70 women and children live. They have escaped brutal violence and now live cut off from the outside world due to the risk of being murdered by their families. Mary Akrami is the woman behind the shelter, which is one of the few places where Afghan women can seek safety. The Mary Foundation awards its special donation of USD 50,000 for 2018 to this women’s shelter.

Fatima was only five years old when her father sold her to an older handicapped man for about DKK 24,000. When she turned 12, she was sent to live with the deaf-mute man.

For two years, she was beaten and abused. Until she plucked up the courage to escape. Out into the unknown. Fatima was lucky to end up at the women’s shelter in Kabul. Had her family found her, she would have been killed.

This was the story author and journalist Simi Jan shared on Children’s Day in November 2018. Among those in the audience was Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who is deeply committed to the global fight for women’s rights, and who, through the work carried out by The Mary Foundation, actively works to combat domestic violence.

After listening to Simi Jan’s description of the women’s brutal fates and shelter’s difficult financial circumstances, The Mary Foundation approached the Danish Embassy in Kabul, UN Women, Danner and other organisations to find out more about the women’s shelter. The feedback was extremely positive, which made it easy to choose the recipient of The Mary Foundation’s special donation for 2018:

Women’s rights in Afghanistan are under pressure on many levels. Afghan women grapple with destructive and powerful social norms that make them extremely vulnerable. Mary Akrami has dedicated her life to helping women and children and is a strong spokesperson in the fight to change conditions for women in Afghanistan. This requires exceptional courage and has also made her a target for those who don’t want change. We would like to use The Mary Foundation’s special donation to support her impressive and profound work,” explained HRH Crown Princess Mary.

Part of the independent Afghan Women Skills Development Center, the women’s shelter was established by Mary Akrami in 2003 as the country’s first women’s shelter. The almost 70 women and children who are currently living at the crisis centre are safe, but are nevertheless still scarred physically and psychologically by their violent experiences. Fearing for their lives, they do not leave the shelter and instead spend their time healing and regaining their faith in a life without violence.

I am deeply grateful for and delighted to receive this wonderful donation. It means a lot, because it makes me feel that I am not alone. Women’s shelters are under threat because there are many forces that want them closed. But I will continue the fight. It is my mission in life.  I will continue to fight for my fellow sisters’ basic rights, such as the right to education, access to medical care and the right to control one’s own body – and for them not to be treated as a man’s property but as equals. This donation will be spent on education, medical care, legal assistance and increased security. Additional funds also enable me to accept more women into the crisis centres, and that means the world to women in mortal danger,” expressed founder and leader Mary Akrami from Kabul.

Every year, the Crown Princess presents The Mary Foundation’s special donation to a project or organisation that has shown particular potential.

The Mary Foundation's special donation

The Mary Foundation’s special donation has been awarded to various other projects in the past, including:

  • Neighbourhood Mothers, The Foundation for Social Responsibility (DKK 250,000)
  • Danish Refugee Council’s work in neighbouring regions (DKK 250,000)
  • Women Deliver, stipends to 14 young leaders (DKK 250,000)
  • Brothers For Life, South Africa (DKK 250,000)
  • Fórum Mulher, Mozambique (DKK 250,000)
  • Orchid Project (DKK 50,000) The “Africa Now” fundraising campaign (DKK 200,000)
  • Maternity Worldwide, Ethiopia (DKK 250,000)

Facts about women’s rights in Afghanistan

  • The Constitution of Afghanistan introduced in 2004 states:
    Any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.” Article 22 of The Constitution of Afghanistan.
  • Despite the Constitution, many regions in Afghanistan are controlled by traditional tribal leaders and religious/cultural traditions that hinder equality. Many Afghans therefore still regard traditions and religious law as superior to judicial law. Source: Human Rights Watch
  • Only a fraction of the actual cases of violence against women in Afghanistan are reported. Source: Human Rights Watch
  • The majority of the cases of violence are addressed through mediation due to pressure from family members and the judicial system. Mediation deprives women of access to the courts and prevents the safeguarding of fundamental rights.ource: The UN report “Injustice and Impunity: Mediation of Criminal Offences of Violence against Women”, 2018. S
  • It is estimated that 87 % of women in Afghanistan experience physical, sexual or psychological violence at some point during their lives. Source: UN Women
  • Until the 1970s, Afghanistan experienced steady progress with respect to women’s rights. Source: Amnesty International
  • 27.7 % of Afghanistan’s parliament members are women. Source: UN Women

Afghan Women Skills Development Center

  • Just under 70 women and children currently live in the women’s shelter.
  • The women’s shelter opened in 2003. Since then, at least 3,500 women have lived at this secret address for shorter or longer periods.
  • The centre has also helped thousands of other girls who have not stayed at the women’s shelter, by providing them with financial or legal support, for example.
  • Mary Akrami is the founder of the women’s shelter and has managed it ever since its inception.

Read more about the Afghan Women Skills Development Center

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mary_fonden Nyd pausen, fællesskabet og alt det klare gule ☀️ Tag jer godt af hinanden. Vi ses på den anden side af påske #alleharrettilathøretil
mary_fonden Kronprinsessen: “Alle har behov for at høre til. Og alle kan være noget for nogen. Hvis vi rækker ud til hinanden. Det handler om åbenhed. Om tolerance. Om mod. Fra hver og en af os.” Sådan slutter Kronprinsessen sit forord af i årsberetningen for 2018, hvor du kan læse om alt det, vi har bedrevet i løbet af sidste år. Det er ikke så lidt, men vi har heller ikke gjort det alene. Tak til alle, der har været med undervejs, fx de modige deltagere i Værket - netværk for voksne i Næstved, som du kan se sammen med Kronprinsessen her på billedet. God påske! #alleharrettilathøretil
mary_fonden H.K.H. Kronprinsessens fokus på mobning og at børn tidligt skal bevidstgøres om det gode digitale kammeratskab kan man læse om i denne uges udgave af #Børneavisen! Find avisen på biblioteket eller i kiosken - og læs den sammen med dit barn! Der er nemlig gode råd til både børn og forældre. #friformobberi #maryfonden #redbarnet #forebyggelseerbedst #stopmobning
mary_fonden ”Jeg er en ’liker’, men jeg ’liker’ ikke alt … ” H.K.H. Kronprinsessen og flere end 220 børn fra Fritidsinstitutionen ved Vibenshus Skole sang med, da @friformobberi og rapgruppen @hipsomhapdk præsenterede en ny sang, Liker, om at være en god kammerat på nettet. Inden koncerten besøgte Kronprinsessen fritidshjemmet, der siden 2014 har arbejdet med Fri for Mobberi, som er en integreret del af alle pædagogiske aktiviteter fra 0. til 3. årgang. Børn og voksne arbejder med tolerance, respekt, omsorg og mod i alle aktiviteter. Fx når de spiller Minecraft, synger og spiller og arbejder med kreative aktiviteter. #friformobberi #liker #jegerenliker #maryfonden #redbarnet #forebyggelseerbedst 📸: Jakob Carlsen
mary_fonden Alle børn får en skinnende medalje, når de løber med i @friformobberi #børnestafetten2019. Løbet en festlig markering af det alvorlige budskab: Det er aldrig i orden at mobbe, og alle har ret til en plads i fællesskabet. Kom og vær med! Vi løber i Aarhus den 25. maj og i København den 22. juni. Find link i bio til tilmelding – husk, at det kun er dit barn, du skal tilmelde. Fri for Mobberi Børnestafetten er Mary Fonden og Red Barnets årlige børneløb mod mobning. Ruten er en kilometer, og børnene løber med en lille bamse som stafet. Når de har gennemført distancen, afleverer de bamsen og får en medalje. Udover løbet er der børneunderholdning og sjove aktiviteter på pladsen. Alle børn mellem 0-13 år kan deltage. Ses vi? #løbmodmobning #forebyggelseerbedst #tolerance #respekt #omsorg #mod