Women rights in new Afghanistan

The recently published report of OXFAM International, titled “Women, Peace and Security”, truly depicted the current situation of the Afghan women, who find themselves in a state between hope and fear. The hope that the peace negotiations will finally put an end to the conflict, and fear that these negotiations will jeopardize the fragile gains made the country for women’s rights and gender equality over the past two decades. With the initiation of intra-Afghan peace negotiation in September 2020, the Afghan nation particularly Afghan women have deep concerned about their future. They feel that the negotiations will likely endanger the nominal gains made for women’s rights over the past two decades.

After the harsh treatment and restrictions on women liberties during Taliban era in Afghanistan, The Afghan women under American’s protection and special emphasis on women rights and liberties remained successful in regaining their due space in the Afghan society. After 2001, The United States gave special preference to the gender equality and empowerment of the Afghan women in the society. USAID had launched several programs directed on women literacy, women empowerment particularly in financial sectors by providing skill trainings in tailoring, knitting, IT, technical jobs training, business, leadership skills, civil service training and business development services.

These programs were successful in urban areas whereas most of the rural areas remain neglected due to law and order problems. The USAID also provide financial aid to the women to start small businesses at home. Afghan women had suffered lot of difficulties and hardships due to continuous war in the country. These business activities were warmly welcome by them. At present, Afghan women do not want to be deprive of these amenities and comforts, which they earned after long time of miseries. The Afghan women in the urban areas have enjoyed full rights and privileges during last two decades. The results are quite apparent today, although their numbers are less but Afghan women have their representation in Afghan parliament and other legislating bodies.

The Afghan constitution 2004, has granted equal rights to all subject without any discrimination between man and women. Under the constitution, 27 % quota has been reserved for women in lower house of Parliament, whereas 17 % quota has been created in upper house of Parliament for women. Presently, women have 27% representation in Afghan civil service and less than 2% in Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Presently, Afghan women are serving at the highest positions in Afghan civil services, the most inspiring examples are Amb. Adela Raz, Afghan permanent Representative to UN and Amb. Roya Rahmani, Afghan Ambassador to the US are serving the country proudly. President Ashraf Ghani issued instructions to appoint female deputy governor in all the 34 provinces of the Country, which is another step for empowerment of Afghan women. The Afghan government also gave enough representation to women in intra-Afghan dialogue so they themselves be available to protect their rights in the future setup of the country.

The US-Taliban deal remained unsuccessful to include any provision on the women’s rights. Now this issue is to be discussed in ongoing intra-Afghan dialogue. There is huge pressure on the Afghan government in ongoing negotiation with Taliban, to protect the women rights, preserve the previous gains and to ensure women participation in future political system of the country.

On other hand, there has been lot of positive changes in the Afghanistan, which was either forbidden or not practiced in Afghanistan during Taliban era. But now Afghan society has changed a lot, Taliban leadership also knew that they will have to compromise with something particularly in public domain. It was apparent by the remarks of a Taliban representative Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, in a meeting in Moscow. Abbas said that the Taliban would respect all rights of women which Islam has granted them.

He said Islam had granted women with all fundamental rights such as doing business, holding a possession, right to inheritance, education, work, choosing a life partner, security, health and life. The Afghan nation has seen innumerous calamities, devastations and woes on the hand of the war during last four decades. The women remained the most effected segment of Afghan society. Both sides want to bring peace in the country. Taliban may have some reservations on the practice or observance of a thing but both parties can resolve issue and they will sort out the most suitable solution to the problem.