Shoshannah, Criminilogy, Afghanistan, Mines Action Canada, Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization ALSO, Kabul, Support Officer
For the winter 2021 term at the University of Ottawa, international internships which would normally be offered as a field placement abroad were offered at a distance due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although students are unable to travel to their host organizations, we are provided the opportunity of gaining practical experience as an international intern whilst working remotely from home with our host organization. As a student intern currently positioned as a Mines Action Program Support Officer for Mines Action Canada (MAC), I was afforded the unique opportunity of working with MAC’s partner organization, Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (ALSO), stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under normal circumstances, this internship with ALSO would not be offered to students during a traditional field placement abroad because of the safety risks and travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government associated with tourists and/or workers travelling abroad to Afghanistan. Therein, I am exceptionally appreciative of this newly introduced placement at the University of Ottawa.
MAC’s and ALSO’s main missions are to advocate for the dismantlement of indiscriminate explosive weapon use and the rights of their victims, who are often left disabled or deceased. Through their advocacy, both organizations implement international humanitarian law, foreign policy, and international diplomacy in order to maintain legitimacy and widespread support. My primary projects as a student intern for ALSO consist of researching, finding, and acquiring donors/sponsors for the organization’s program funding in Kabul. Furthermore, studying how reports, international humanitarian law, and the objectives of foreign policy buttress ALSO’s advocacy has been vital to collaborating persuasive work with colleagues in Afghanistan.
One striking element (amongst many) that makes ALSO’s mission so powerful is the fact that most of the organization’s staff members are victims and survivors of indiscriminate explosive weapons themselves, many of whom experience disabilities as a result. This provides a personal perspective and passion towards the lived realities faced by explosive weapon victims in Afghanistan. Furthermore, several staff members at ALSO are women survivors with disabilities who fight for their basic rights against intersectional levels of oppression in Afghanistan because of both their gender and (dis)ability. The battle against gender-based oppression in Kabul is still an ongoing struggle and the presence of indiscriminate weapon contamination results in immense poverty, danger, and isolation for women and girls who are denied equality. Therein, ALSO utilizes Feminist Foreign Policy and continues to advocate for women and girls in particular during their support strategies and campaigns. ALSO has given me the task of researching further into the international humanitarian laws currently in place for women and girls, Feminist Foreign Policy, and sponsors who focus on supporting women’s rights exclusively in the upcoming weeks.
I am extremely excited to continue on this journey with MAC and ALSO throughout the rest of my internship. Considering how much I have already learned about international diplomacy, law, and relations, I look forward to furthering my practical involvement with organizations that advocate for the rights and liberty of citizens across the globe.