Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, July 21st, 2019

Women’s Key Role in Social and Political Life

Afghan women played a highly significant role in social, political, and economic arenas and continue their active participation in all these sectors after being entitled equally in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. Although traditional culture, tribal code of conduct, and radical mindset hampered the activities of women in collective life, they made great achievements.
To better understand the role of Afghan women in collective life, one needs to view the history. For instance, the role of Queen Soraya Tarzi is very prominent in Afghanistan’ history. Soraya worked actively to liberate Afghan women, grant them their rights, and encourage them to participate in nation building. She set up the first women’s hospital and girl’s school in the country. As minister of education, she arranged to send 18 young women to Turkey to seek higher education in 1928.
Speaking at the seventh anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence, she is cited as saying, “It (independence) belongs to all of us and that is why we celebrate it. Do you think, however, that our nation from the outset needs only men to serve it? Women should also take their part as women did in the early years of our nation and Islam. From their examples we must learn that we must all contribute toward the development of our nation and that this cannot be done without being equipped with knowledge. So, we should all attempt to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in order that we may render our services to society in the manner of the women of early Islam.”
Moreover, the 18-year-old Afghan national heroine Malalai of Maiwand – who rallied local people fighters against the British troops at the 1880 Battle of Maiwand – will be kept alive in the heart of Afghan history for her heroic act and considered as a role model. She was a native of Khig, a tiny village on the edge of the Maiwand battlefield, and the daughter of a shepherd. Like many women, Malalai was there to help the wounded and provide water and spare weapons. Eventually there came a point in the battle where the Afghan army was losing morale in Battle of Maiwand. Malalai took the Afghan flag and addressed them by an epic poem as, “Young love! If you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand, by God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame.” This gave many of the Afghan fighters and ghazis a new resolve and they redoubled their efforts. At that moment one of the leading flag-bearers fell from a British bullet, Malalai went forward and held up the flag singing heroic song as, “With a drop of my sweetheart’s blood, shed in defense of the motherland, will I put a beauty spot on my forehead, such as would put to shame the rose in the garden.”
But then Malalai herself was struck down and killed in cold blood. However, her words had spurred on her countrymen and soon the British lines gave way, broke and turned, leading to a disastrous retreat back to Kandahar and the biggest defeat for the British army in the Second Afghan War. Afterwards, Ayub Khan, the king who led the Battle of Maiwand, gave a special honor to Malalai and she was buried at her village, where her grave can still be found. Indeed, her actions were enough to turn her into a national heroine where she is still revered today. Schools, hospitals and even a women’s magazine have been named after her.
The aforementioned facts show that Afghan women played essential role through the history in social and political life sowing the seeds of courage for their next generations.
Currently, one cannot deny the key role of women in social and political life. Afghan women have highly constructive part in all sectors. Their participation is prominent in elections both as voters and candidates, in schools and universities as instructors and learners, and other daily activities. It is believe that if women’s are marginalized from collective activities and the said arenas, Afghanistan will sustained the most serious damage it has ever had.
The historical role of women should not be considered unheard-of and their current part should not be downplayed. The Afghan government needs to pave the ground for greater role of women and empower them further.
Meanwhile, Afghan women have to take more active part in nation building and social activities. If women do not support their male counterparts in collective life, the progress will be seriously hampered.