Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

WITH ALL OUR STRENGTH: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

WITH ALL OUR STRENGTH: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

Article excerpt

WITH ALL OUR STRENGTH: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

Anne E. Brodsky

Routledge Press, 2003. 318 pages $38.00

Reviewed by Prabha Khosla

Ever wondered what a biography of an independent and autonomous women's liberation movement would Look Like? If so, that wouLd be but one reason for reading this book about the RevoLutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). There are others.

By interviewing over 100 RAWA members and supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and through her own experience and anaLysis of RAWA, Brodsky, a community psychologist, has produced a fascinating and intimate Look at the incredible organizing of Afghan women against odds that many of us cannot imagine and few have experienced. And 1 am not only speaking about the recent Taliban tyranny.

Since 1977, when RAWA was founded, by a 20-year old student activist and her 5 friends, the women of Afghanistan have had to defend themselves and fight for their rights through years of male warfare and social disruption from the pro- and anti-Soviet left, the Russian occupiers, the puppet government of Najibullah and the U.S. sponsored mujahideen, the four years of the jehadis - the various Afghan warlords, and then, five year of the Taliban. And, it is still not over. Due to U.S. bullying and imperialist designs, some of the worst misogynist and anti-democratic jehadis, are now part of the Karzai administration. Did someone say that women in Afghanistan were now liberated? Free?

RAWA has organized and survived for over 26 years. Their success and resilience is obviously due to the astuteness of their analysis of political developments in Afghanistan, the relevance of their priorities to the lives of Afghan girls and boys and women and men, and also to their difficult but necessary strategy of underground organizing.

From the founding of RAWA by a small group of educated women in Kabul, to its transformation to a key force for the liberation of a pro-women and girls and pro-human rights secular and democratic Afghanistan, Brodsky traces the evolution of this movement of women operating in two countries. With all Our Strength documents the struggles of RAWA. They supported some of the mujahideen against the Soviet occupation while disagreeing with others who espoused religious fundamentalism. After the shock and loss of Meena - the revered founder of RAWA who was assassinated in 1987, the movement required organizational transformation. The book documents the extensive infrastructure of services RAWA provides and how they are provided. …

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