Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel

International Women’s Day lunch hears of challenges in Afghanistan

“The best prediction of a state’s peacefulness is how women are treated,” women's advocate Lauryn Oates tells crowd.

An advocate for women and girls in Afghanistan was the special guest speaker at an International Women’s Day lunch Saturday at Newlands.

Lauryn Oates has been passionate about women’s rights there since 1996, when she first learned how the Taliban was treating women. She converted  her passion into action by setting up a chapter of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) in Vancouver, and is currently projects director for the organization.

“Girls were banned from school. Women couldn’t work outside the home and weren’t allowed to even leave their homes without a male relative. The rules effectively meant that women and girls were no longer human beings,” Oates said.

She first went to Afghanistan in 2003, after the Taliban was overthrown, following the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States by Al-Qaeda.

She told the more than 200 people at the event, sponsored by the Langley Central Rotary Club, that Afghanistan is “a place of extremes.” In some areas, a fairly high number of girls are getting an education, but in others, literacy is minimal, child mortality is high and vaccination levels are very low.

“Educating mothers is the single biggest factor in improving the whole situation,” she said. “The best prediction of a state’s peacefulness is how women are treated.”

Oates is a big advocate of literacy, and not just learning to read, but making reading an enjoyable everyday habit.

“The human right to read is the key that opens the lock,” she said “Literacy allows women  to become independent.”

She told the crowd that the “human rights of others far away from us are entwined with us here. In our comfort here in Canada, we have sometimes forgotten that rights were not given, they were taken. There is no excuse for treating people differently, even when you are told to mind your own business.”

Three local women of distinction were honoured at the event.

Marilyn Gabriel is hereditary chief of the Kwantlen First Nation, and in her almost 20 years of leadership has helped the First Nation regain its traditional name, expand its cultural and educational programs and enter into a number of business activities. It has good relations with other levels of government, and Gabriel has empowered the people of her community.

Ingeborg Violet is a member of the Langley Central club,  and with her late husband Claude, started Domaine de Chaberton Winery in South Langley — the first winery in the Fraser Valley and the first of many wineries to come to the area. Since they sold the winery in 2005, after operating it for more than 20 years, she has been an active community volunteer, raising funds for Langley Memorial Hospital and other causes.

Christina Bucholtz, 23, began The People’s Foundation of Sierra Leone to empower young people in the west African country which endured a 12-year civil war. The foundation is involved in health education, encourages mentoring and provides university scholarships.

She is there at present, as a volunteer teacher. Her award was accepted on her behalf by her mother Bonnie.

Just Posted

Spreading Christmas cheer around Aldergrove

Easing the pains and difficulties of hard times is ‘reason for the season’

120 turn up for Aldergrove blood clinic

More volunteer help welcomed by Canadian Blood Services

VIDEO: Hundreds compete in Langley Olympians intra club meet

An opportunity for older and younger swimmers to get a taste of competition, coach says

VIDEO: Basics for Babies underway at Langley Events Centre

Canadian country stars perform at fundraiser

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

Hundreds attend Hells Angels funeral in Maple Ridge

Body of Chad John Wilson found last month face-down under the Golden Ears Bridge.

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Gas prices to climb 11 cents overnight in Lower Mainland

Hike of 17 cents in less than 48 hours due to unexpected shutdown of Washington state pipeline

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

Most Read