Kunar women call for protection of gains in peace talks

KABUL (Tolo News): Thousands of women work in government positions in Kunar, and these workers along with others are demanding better treatment. Also, they are demanding that gains be preserved in the peace process.

Over 2,900 women are working in different departments at government institutions in the eastern province of Kunar, officials from the Kunar Women’s Affairs Department said on Thursday. According to the local officials, there are also another 1,300 women and girls working and studying in higher education institutions in the province.

However, this figure accounts for only 3 percent of women in the area overall. Meanwhile, a number of women in Kunar have said that the peace process in Afghanistan will not succeed unless there are assurances that women’s gains will be protected.

Hamida, 23, has obtained a bachelors degree and she is now working in a department in Assad Abad, the center of Kunar. “I witnessed mistreatment by males on the way between home to work several times; they think that when we are out of our homes we do not have good morals, but I have fought against this situation,” said Hamida.

According to statistics, currently 90,000 girls are enrolled in schools across Kunar. “The women achieved all these gains by tolerating thousands of problems including the right of working outside the homes; there are some people who feel pride when their women work outside, this was not possible a few years back,” said Hamida.

Violence against women in Kunar is also a problem which has raised concerns among the women. “We trained the women about their rights, but still there are villages in Kunar where the women do not know about their rights,” said Suhaila Babur, the head of the Kunar Department of Women Affairs. Najwa was engaged with her cousin when she was very young, but her marriage was cancelled due to the poverty of the family of the groom.

She fled home with her fiancé two months ago. Later she was arrested on charges of fleeing the home and sentenced to 16 months in jail. “These dark incidents that we see are the result of war and violence, if there is an end to the war and violence and there is peace, violence will decrease against women,” said Najwa.

Women in Kunar meanwhile have said that the gains made by the women in Afghanistan over the past two decades must be protected. “The Taliban did not abide by the commitment to reduce violence, this causes us to distrust the Taliban; there is a possibility that the Taliban will violate their commitments toward the rights of the women in the future,” said Fawzia, a resident in Kunar.