The Woman Who Shaped History

 

Who says women have not contributed to the human history? Here’s one of our Asian female heroes who made us all proud with her life full of struggle, and responsible to stand up for our rights, through her death! Meena, who changed the horizon of options for Afghan women for all times to come.

 

Meena Keshwar Kamal, commonly known as Meena, (February 27, 1956 – February 4, 1987) was an Afghan feminist and activist on behalf of women's rights. She founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) in 1977, a group organized to promote equality and education for women.

 

In 1979, she campaigned against what she perceived as a Russian puppet state controlling Afghanistan, and organized meetings in schools to mobilize support against it, and in 1981, she launched a bilingual feminist magazine, Payam-e-Zan (Women's Message). She also founded Watan Schools to aid refugee children and their mothers, offering both hospitalization and the teaching of practical skills.

 

At the end of 1981, by invitation of the French Government Meena represented the Afghan resistance movement at the French Socialist Party Congress. The Soviet delegation at the Congress, headed by Boris Ponamaryev, left the hall as participants cheered when Meena started waving a victory sign.

 

She was assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan on February 4, 1987. Reports vary as to who the assassins were, but are believed to have been agents of KHAD, the Afghan secret police, or of fundamentalist Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

 

Kamal was married to Afghanistan Liberation Organization leader Faiz Ahmad, who himself was murdered by agents of Hekmatyar on November 12, 1986. She also has three children whose whereabouts are unknown.

 

Time Magazine on Nov.13, 2006, in a special issue included Meena among "60 Asian Heroes" and wrote: "Although she was only 30 when she died, Meena had already planted the seeds of an Afghan women's rights movement based on the power of knowledge.” 

 

RAWA says about her: "Meena gave 12 years of her short but brilliant life to struggle for her homeland and her people. She had a strong belief that despite the darkness of illiteracy, ignorance of fundamentalism, and corruption and decadence of sell outs imposed on our women under the name of freedom and equality, finally that half of population will be awaken and cross the path towards freedom, democracy and women's rights. The enemy was rightly shivering with fear by the love and respect that Meena was creating within the hearts of our people. They knew that within the fire of her fights all the enemies of freedom, democracy and women would be turned to ashes."

 

An enduring quote from Meena states:

 

Afghan women are like sleeping lions, when they awoken, can play a wonderful role in any social revolution.