26 years ago today Meena, the founder of RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) was assassinated (whether by fundamentalist scum or scum in the pay of the soviet puppet regime, it is not known... although the balance of suspicion falls on the regime scum). She was just 30 years old and had devoted all of her adult life to the stuggle for women's rights in Afghanistan. The world lost an inspirational figure that day.
Meena called the women of Afghanistan sleeping lions, pledging that one day they would awake and roar. In 1977, at the age of 20, she launched the country's first movement for women's rights, calling her group the Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Its goals: the restoration of democracy, equality for men and women, social justice, and the separation of religion from the affairs of the state. But in a country mired in tradition and occupied by the Soviet Union, Meena's beliefs were threatening enough to get her assassinated. Ten years after founding RAWA, she was kidnapped and killed.
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. She believed that if women were able to read and write, that if they could communicate and learn about the world, they would discover their own strength and could make a difference in their own society. After the Soviet invasion in 1979 she established schools and orphanages for refugees pouring over the border into Pakistan. Those schools offered opportunities never available previously to young Afghan women. "Meena didn't just give me an education; she taught me that I had the right to live a better life," says Sahar Saba, an early student at RAWA's first school in Quetta.
Although the status of women has advanced a little since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001, both the Karzai regime and its western backers are at best lukewarm on women's rights and the Taliban are resurgent. RAWA are needed as much today as they ever were.
In 2006 Meena was nominated as one of the Heroes of the past 60 years by the Asian edition of Time Magazine. It was heartening to see her name alongside those of Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Aung Sang Suu Kyi