Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Women’s Achievements in Social and Political Spheres

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the rights and liberties of Afghan women as well as their social and political role have been discussed in the national media, including the social media network. The dominant views and reports regarding women were centralized on violence against women, regardless of the strides they made within less than two decades.
The national media focused on the reports released by Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which showed a surge in violence against women. In Afghanistan, much has been said about violence and sexual discrimination, which outweigh women’s empowerment and the progress made by them.
The issue of women’s rights has been highly contentious in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. Liberal approach towards women was in conflict with that of conservative. A number of Afghans, including women, showed tendency towards liberal mindset regarding women’s rights and freedoms. However, religious conservatives and some clerics pushed back against the liberal attitude. Showing sensitivity to women’s liberalization, they sought to dominate human rights discourse with religious narratives.
Worst of all, the Taliban group sough to pursue its harshly ideological narratives about women and trigger people’s religious sensitivity towards women’s liberalization. Although the Taliban outfit created barriers before women’s social and political activities in their dominated areas, it could neither prevent the adoption of a democratic constitution nor hamper women’s progress.
The new constitution, adopted in 2004, paved the ground for social, political and economic role of Afghan women through giving equal rights to men and women and recognizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter. This move boosted women’s self-confidence and smoothed an equal platform for them to engage in social and political spheres similar to their male counterparts. To this end, public opinion also gradually shifted toward accepting the role of women in public life.
Women made great strides in the social and political fronts. The active engagement of women in the media, which indicates the freedom of expression, and high political posts and as Afghan representatives in the United Nations are believed to have changed the world perspective towards Afghan women and generated hope for the people. A considerable number of Afghan women are active in the country’s judicial organs serving as judges, lawyers, and plaintiffs, which generate further hope for women’s access to justice. In the current administration, there are two female ministers, 4 ambassadors, 2 mayors, 11 female deputies in Kabul districts, and 26 gender experts in local organ. Likewise, women form 26 percent of leadership of Peace Council, 20 percent of provincial council, 22 percent members of staff of the country’s Attorney General Office, and 23 percent members of staff of the country’s Supreme Court, according to reports.
Achieving remarkably within the past 18 years, Afghan women seek to maintain their gains. In other words, now Afghan women are concerned about the peace talks. They fear that the Taliban leadership will put their achievements at stake. Some women, especially those in uniform, gathered in the Ministry of Defense to discuss “peace and security” during a three day conference, in which Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani declared that there would be initiative to form a Military Council of Afghan Women adding that women should have a key role in the Afghan peace process and their achievements must not be sacrificed at the negotiating table. Meanwhile, Habiba Sarabi, the deputy of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, is cited as saying that women could have “a critical role” once a peace deal was signed with the Taliban group. 
Afghan women are now more aware of their legal rights and more active in defending their rights and liberties. In short, huge changes have occurred regarding women’s rights and freedoms as well as public opinions have changed about them.
The government should try to implement national laws about women, reduce sexual violence, and protect their rights and freedoms. Women’s rights and achievements should be a red-line for the government at the negotiating table with the Taliban. After the peace deal, the Taliban group should not be able to undo democratic gains and strides made by women.
The country’s media should also cover the positive aspects of women’s status, their achievements, and their significant role in social and political arenas. If reports are not balanced, mainly about women, Afghan women are likely to be demoralized. Feeding readers and audience with pessimistic analyses and negative reports will put an adverse effect on their minds. Thus, the achievements of women should make the news and people have the rights to know how much Afghan women have been empowered and changed.