Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Alignment of Afghan Women with Women’s March in January

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Alignment of Afghan Women with Women’s March in January

Protests during presidential inauguration in United States has been prevalent since inaugural ceremony of President Nixon in 1973. Even during inauguration of Barack Obama back in 2009 there were few protesters whom were chanting for their rights and expressing their gratitude to George W.Bush. However, the marching on January 21, 2017 was far beyond just expressing gratitude to former president of States Barack Obama. According to media reports, more than a million has gathered on respective demonstration. Some social scientists believe that the number of marchers can be as high as 5 million and beyond.

The protest took place to protect the legislations and polices concerning human rights, women rights, racial equality and freedom of religion. Millions rushed to streets in Washington D.C a day after Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, the day is widely known as counter-inauguration gathering.

Women’s march started with a simple Facebook-question by retired attorney in Hawaii, Teresa Shook. She asked her social media friends, what if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day? The post attracted thousands of people whom signed up to attend the ceremony, just in 24 hours. Later the idea was welcomed warmly not only in United States but also across the globe.

In Washington D.C, some famous activists such as Gloria Steinem, a feminist icon of 1960s and 1970s, were witnessed in the massive crowd. While addressing the crowd, she said that “Make sure you introduce yourselves to each other and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.” She added, “We’re never turning back!”

Women and men in cities including Sydney, Berlin, London, Paris, Nairobi, Cape town marched in solidarity with the marchers in Washington and opposing the values that they think Trump presents. It seemed that cold weather was not a barrier for women’s contribution to demonstration. CNN reports that pro-peace, pro-environment march also took place in Antarctica.

Banners, posters, sign boards and placards were carried in Sydney holding messages such as “Girl Power vs. Trump Tower” and “Dump the Trump”. In Europe, protesters occupied the streets in Germany, United Kingdom, Spain and France. In London, the far-famed Trafalgar Square hosted more than hundred thousands of people protecting the fundamental values and human rights. London mayor, Sadiq Khan did not keep silent and joined the marchers virtually by tweeting, “show how much we value the rights every woman should have.” Previously, the first Muslim mayor of London, told media that Trump’s views of Islam were “ignorant”. Later on Saturday, British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) indicated in a report that mayor was witnessed among the crowd marching for women’s right in an anti-trump rally.

Among these all the marchers, the individual that significantly caught my attention was; An Afghan refugee women carrying signs and flags in Athens, Greece. The news regarding informed Afghan-women seeking asylum in Greece was stated in CNNWIRE that stunned me. She left me no words but to praise her awareness on the issue.

Probably, the question rises why in Afghanistan, a country who puts its baby steps in democratic world, the demonstration did not take much of attention and was not appreciated by female residents of the country? Are Afghan women inhibiting in Afghanistan are less aware than those of residing outside?

Being an Afghan-female, it is understandable for me and thousands of other ladies residing in the country that female sector of society has been encountering not only one but thousands of problems which are still the legacy of Talibanism mindsets. Women’s march would have been a unique opportunity for female residents of the country to get their voices heard by law makers.

On the other hand, they are completely aware of subsequent that would be waiting for them afterwards. The sad story of 27-year old Farkhunda in Kabul and Rokhshana in Ghor has not vanished from memories of Afghan women.

The Afghan refugee women expressing her thoughts on discrimination, is completely aware that her motherland is not yet compatible with her thoughts for gender equality due of that the country is ranked at the bottom of gender inequality table, securing 147th place. Moreover, demonstrations in Afghanistan have no good consequences. The very recent demonstration, held at heart of the capital city, Kabul was replied with a massive explosion. Deh Mazang Square demonstration was known as one of the most peaceful marching in history of the country.

In addition, yet a platform that connects and units women from across the country on a shared goal is not yet established. Awareness raising on this issue is an important factor.

These all reasons have collectively come together for the residents in the country in order not to be aligned with the rest of world. Events such as women’s march, a worldwide demonstration for the purpose of protecting women’s rightful rights, is one of its kinds.

As martin Luther King, Jr. indicates, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Hope in democracy and practicing these rights in society is the seeds that must be cultivated in the current era of beloved motherland.

Simin Haidery is a freelance Afghan Columnist.

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