Today (8th March) is celebrated as International Women’s Day in many countries around the globe. The basic objective of the day is to recognize women for their achievements in different walks of life without any regard to division, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. The day has its roots in the labor movements in early 20th century in North America and Europe. However, it has turned into a formal movement supported by United Nations’ conferences and many other commemorations.
This year the theme of the day is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. The theme pertains to the efforts for accelerating the 2030 Agenda, and gaining support and practical implementation of goals number 4, and 5 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), which aim to achieve gender equality, empower all women and girls, ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Moreover, it also considers the changing nature of work i.e. different professions and works that the people do for livelihood and the implications for women. As globalization and technological and digital revolutions have brought opportunities, there are also serious challenges, like informality of labor, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts; and all these issues must be addressed in the contexts of women’s economic empowerment.
For Afghanistan the rights and empowerment of women have always remained an issue. As the country has suffered from instability and wars, many other sectors and issues have been neglected by the authorities. The issue of weak or no governance has been the most dominant one. There are many parts of the country that remain unattended even today. Though a so-called democratic government has been formed, it has failed to carry out a democratic governance system. The power still remains with the powerful warlords and selfish leaders and they have failed to make the system work for the poor masses. In fact, the lives of the common people have remained unchanged to a certain extent. Meanwhile, the weaker strata particularly women have paid a very high price as a repercussion.
Afghan authorities need to make serious commitments about women as women in this country have not been empowered as much as they should be. Women in Afghanistan have been undergoing discriminatory behavior for decades now. The religious extremism and obsolete tribal values have been vehemently responsible for violation and violence against them. Even though, they have been echoing their concerns, they do not seem to get as much attention as possible in the patriarchal Afghan society.
As a matter of fact, the male-chauvinistic ears are not ready to hear them though they feel their vibrations clearly. Nevertheless, the efforts in this regard must never be given up and they should continue in every possible way. One of the ways to rise up and be counted in the social and political life is to strive participating in the social and political institutions and processes. And, this is not the responsibility of a particular faction of society, not a particular stratum, not even a particular gender but of all those human beings have some concern and some love for human rights, the ones who believe in dignity of human beings and their existence without any differentiation of gender.
Particularly, men can play an imperative role. Though they have been mostly responsible for the discrimination, modern men can now change their attitude and commit themselves to make the difference. Fighting the discrimination and violence does not necessarily mean that women alone should shoulder the responsibility. There should be efforts to bring about changes in the attitude of men towards women; otherwise, fighting for the rights of women would be very difficult.
In similar fashion, the different institutions, functioning in the society must also fulfill their responsibilities and they must ensure that there should not be biased policies and attitude against the women. Their policies and practices must never be inclined towards discrimination and injustice on the basis of gender. Not only the women rights organization but different other social, political and administrative organizations can have a part in making sure that women are properly compensated within the system and are not neglected on the basis of prejudice.
In the countries like Afghanistan, the religious and tribal institutions can also play tremendous role in uplifting the position of women and giving them the status they deserve. As most of the people are religious and tribal, they can easily be motivated by such institutions for better and higher purposes.
It is important that the efforts regarding women rights do not end only in conferences and celebrations by certain organizations and individuals but in resolute commitments and most importantly practical efforts for the rights and empowerment of women. In this regard, the International Women’s Day can be used to encourage efforts to make this really happen.