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Democratic Organization of Afghan Women (1965)


A Marxist-oriented political group active between 1965 and 1992.

The Democratic Organization of Afghan Women (DOAW) was founded in 1965 as a component of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) by Anahita Ratebzad, who served as its first president. After the PDPA seized power in the military coup of April 1978, DOAW became an important organization in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). Ratebzad announced that the DOAW's primary objective was to fight against feudalism and Western imperialism in defense of the objectives of the "Saur (April 1978) Revolution." In 1979 President Taraki (19781979) changed the name of the organization to the Khalq (People's) Organization of Afghan Women (KOAW). In 1980 the organization retook its original name and started a monthly journal, Zanan-i-Afghanistan (Women of Afghanistan), to publicize its objectives. It also expanded its activities in the provinces and launched a literacy campaign to make education available to women of all ages and to inform them of the objectives of the Saur Revolution. In 1981 the DOAW claimed nineteen district and seven municipal committees and 209 primary organizations whose main function was to attract women to the organization in support of revolution. When Najibullah came to power in 1986 he eliminated all Marxist rhetoric in an effort to lessen growing opposition to the PDPA regime. In line with this policy, the organization's name was changed from Sazman-i-Democratic-i-Zanan-i-Afghanistan (Democratic Organization of Afghan Women) to Shura-i-Sarasari-Zanan-i-Afghanistan (All Afghanistan Women's Council), and Ratebzad was replaced by Firuza Wardak as president of the organization.

See also Afghanistan: Overview; Afghanistan: Soviet Intervention in; Arab Socialism; Gender: Gender and the Law.


Moghadam, Valentine M. Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1993.

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