Documenting the vulnerability and marginalisation of women and girls displaced to urban Afghanistan


On Tuesday, 18 August 2015, it was privilege to listen to the AHRCentre’s Claudia Tazreiter and Susanne Schmeidl discuss Susanne’s experiences researching and documenting the vulnerability and marginalisation of women and girls displaced to urban Afghanistan. Susanne and a research team from a local Afghan organisation – The Liaison Office - produced a report for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) entitled ‘Listening to women and girls displaced to urban Afghanistan’.

The report, believed to be the first of its kind, documented the fears and frustrations of women and girls displaced to cities in Afghanistan. The report is told through their voices and presented in their own words.

Susanne, with over 14 years’ experience living  and working in Afghanistan, spoke about the methodologies she employed creating the research, including using local researchers to perform and conduct the interviews, matching age with age, male with male, female with female. She was candid about her concerns that she would not receive enough feedback from women, for many reasons. However, through the diligent work of her researchers, they found that young women and girls were very keen to talk about the issues they faced every day. Some key findings for displaced women and girls across Afghanistan’s cities include that they are:

  • Increasingly marginalised and isolated (limited mobility)
  • Not always able to access education and healthcare
  • Suffering unacceptable levels of hunger, alongside cultural norms prevent them from contributing to the livelihoods of their families and children
  • At increased risk of forced and early marriage
  • Suffering high levels of psychological trauma and have no mental health assistance support to turn to.

The power of the report lies predominantly in the way the authors documented the lives of displaced Afghani women and girls, many of whom are in despair, potentially suicidal and with unmet mental health needs. Susanne and Claudia’s conversation highlighted how the western powers have not only created this crisis of displacement, but rather than liberating women they have increased their vulnerability, marginalisation, and lack of economic independence.

To hear more from Susanne on this, you can listen to the podcast by The Wire, click here.

To access the report ‘Listening to women and girls displaced to urban Afghanistan’, click here.

To access the report’s key findings and recommendations, click here.

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