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The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

I ran across a very interesting article about a radical Afghan feminist group today: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). This group had been around since the old war with the Soviet Union in the 1970s, but especially gained steam with the advent of the Internet (at least internationally).

The full article is very engaging, and can be found in Z-Net. The following excerpt discusses RAWA's use of the Internet for activism.

The advent of the internet catapulted RAWA into the international like no other new technology. Wisely seeing the potential for international solidarity, and drawing world attention to a forgotten crisis, RAWA launched www.rawa.orgin late 1996. One member explained:
We never imagined the internet would bring such a positive result for us. It is very important and something that now we can’t imagine we could work without… At the time I remember it was kind of amazing. The first email from the US that we got, we all called each other to come see this and our eyes were so big...

Most of the relations between RAWA and their international supporters have developed through their website and e-mail. I too first discovered RAWA through their website and wrote to them expressing my solidarity.

RAWA’s website is the perfect portal for them to express their political views and publish their documents while preserving the anonymity of their members. Additionally, large amounts of material can be published and archived with little additional cost.

While Payam-e-Zanis (their newsletter) still RAWA’s primary outlet to reach the majority of Afghans - who live in a poor country with little internet access, RAWA’s website is the main method of communicating with the outside world,

Apparently the Internet is vital for raising funds and for drawing international awareness and solidarity, but is almost worthless within Afghanistan.

Comments

Liz - that's an excellent example - I had forgot about their work (mostly because I have a terrible memory, not because their work is forgettable). There's a book about RAWA's work that I read a few years ago - "Veiled Courage: Inside the Afghan Women's Resistance" by Cheryl Benard. Very powerful.