Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, August 18th, 2017

‘Women for Change’

In the changing landscape of Afghanistan’s socio-political scenario, it is important to encourage and appreciate the role of women. Without women, the ongoing processes of change would never lead to a better society. Therefore, it is important to let women participate in different walks of life so that they are able to acquire their true position within the society and, at the same time, support the society achieve stability and prosperity.
In order to ensure that women play a role in the process of change and themselves become the change makers, Afghanistan Human Rights Action and Mobilisation (AHRAM), the European Union (EU) co-funded drive for human rights in Afghanistan has been launched in Kabul. The campaign is being jointly launched by Cooperazione per lo Sviluppo dei Paesi Emergenti (COSPE), Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWC and Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN).
The campaign was aimed at to draw the attention of the Afghan Government and the international institutions to the need of removing the obstacles limiting the access to education of girls and of preparing female leadership in the country. The campaign supported positive measures to promote the role of women in politics, in social institutions, in the community at large and its process of change.
The changes in Afghan society must be analyzed from two perspectives. The first one must be analyzed from within Afghan society, keeping in consideration the social changes that occur with the interactions and development within the social institutions and other actors. Such a perspective depicts that Afghanistan is a tribal society with a slow pace of changes. The traditional culture and norms and values are strict and slow to change. Moreover, education, that can be a source of change, has not been able to penetrate Afghan society properly. Most of the rural areas still do not have schools and proper education. In addition, the education that is being provided contains obsolete curriculum that does not help much in changing the mentality of the people and thus the society as a whole. This slow pace of changes within Afghan society does not help much in changing the position of women. They, to a large extent, are still suffering from the discriminatory rules and regulations and social behavior.
Extremist and strict religious beliefs and practices have also made the changes less frequent. Strengthened by extremist religious institutions, these beliefs and practices have no positive approach towards changes and consider them evil. They also support the patriarchal setup and keep the discrimination against women intact and even invigorate it.
The political changes are also very slow as the political setups, in most of the areas, are non-existent. The democracy has not been able to reach to grass root level as local bodies are not chosen through any sort of election. The setup, therefore, is authoritative and dominated by tribal lords and extremist religious leaders, who do not welcome the positive changes at all.
The other perspective of changes in Afghan society must be understood in its relations with regional and international community and actors. The involvement of international community has strived to impose liberal and democratic changes in Afghan society. Though, it has been successful to a certain extent, the real changes are yet to be seen.
The regional countries on the other hand have always strived to promote and gain their interests in Afghanistan. They have not been supportive enough in bringing about long-lasting changes in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the capability of Afghan administrative structure has not been able to take full advantage from the external support and change the lives of the people of Afghanistan.
Another important factor to consider regarding the nature of changes that may occur in the times to come in Afghanistan’s socio-political scenario is the ongoing transition period and the post-withdrawal era. As the security transition has been completed and most of the international troops have already withdrawn, there are concerns that the security situation may deteriorate and there may by many compromises in the peace deal with Taliban that may lead the society towards further religious extremism and backwardness.
The changes so far made and occurred and the ones that may follow do not seem to have much consideration regarding the rights of women and gender balance. Women have been discriminated and they may further be influenced by the future changes to a large extent as they are one of the weaker strata and weaker strata are influenced by transitions and instabilities to a large extent.  
Moreover, women fear the return of Taliban-like era and fear that all the developments made for improvement of the status of women may be lost unless wise decisions are made. In the political bargain with Taliban for the peace process, it is possible that government may make certain compromises among which the law regarding the rights of women may suffer further.  
Therefore, it is really necessary to understand the nature of mentioned changes and try to direct the efforts of the international community and regional players and also of the Afghan government itself in promoting the role of women in the process of change in Afghan society, as without their heightened role and position the changes may not prove to be fruitful for the society as a whole.