Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, March 30th, 2020

International Women’s Day Marks with hopes and fears in Afghanistan

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International Women’s Day Marks with hopes and fears in Afghanistan

This year the 8th of March coincided with murmurings of Islamic Emirate and so marked with increasing waves of hopes and fears in Afghanistan. The hopes are raised because of a possible end to the long term conflicts in which the women were the most vulnerable group in the country, but the fear or concerns are raised because Afghan women have the bitterest experience and memory from the past. In 1995, when Taliban took over the power, women were the first group who were put in cage depriving from social and educational activities. Liberty, equality and democracy did stop at that time and gave way to fundamentalist, sexist, prejudice and traditional absolutist. Dignity for women was defined to stay hidden protecting themselves from men’s gazes. Overall, the socio-political position of women had been declined to zero.
Despite ups and downs since 2001, much progress has been made for the improvement women wife in the country and Afghan women have also shown merits and excellence in various fields such as education, higher education, politics, economy, trade, sports, art and others.  Today there are working as ministers, governors, judges, police, teachers, doctors, engineer, and soldiers and so on. Today, the parliament of Afghanistan has not less percentage of women than many advanced countries, including the US Congress. In addition to the political, cultural and social presence, Afghan women have had too effective entrepreneurial role in the country’s macroeconomic activities. They have been involved in key projects, including carpet weaving, packaging of the fresh and dry fruits, handicrafts and even that of the jewelry businesses. In fact, they play significant role in development of their country exerting major influence in support of a modern and moderate Afghanistan. Whereas during the Taliban regime they couldn’t attend school, work, or leave home without a male guardian and therefore there are increasing concerns over women’s rights post US-Taliban deal.
According to the Constitution of Afghanistan, article 22, “any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.” Based on this, the government is accountable to enforce the law strictly and empower women through safeguarding their rights and dignity. While during the Taliban there was no constitution to give the women’s fundamental rights, the right to liberty, equality and pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the recent peace agreement signed between the United States and Taliban has created a lot of fears and concerns among women community for not returning to the past dark era when the Women and girls were deprived all rights. Violence and abuse were routinely justified during the Taliban regime in 90s while there is profound difference and the women of today have no similarity with women of twenty years before. Millions of girls attend school and women contribute to society as top ranking government officials, civil servants and businesspeople.
Unfortunately, the US-Taliban agreement under leadership of Trump has not showed enough commitment to the past democratic achievement and women’s freedom whilst during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, they had clear position about freedom and rights of women. Given the report cart of Taliban in the country, if they retake the power, it is more likely to propel the country towards a middle-aged condition. Therefore, the women community is extremely concerned about those rights that could be diminished under the terms of the agreement, particularly if the United States moves forward with the full withdrawal of troops outlined in the deal. However, the recent US and Russian joint declaration about not supporting the Islamic Emirate to re-dominate Afghanistan has created some new hopes in the country. Though the Taliban has responded to the public concerns about rights of women saying they would respect the rights of women accordance with Islamic rule and regulations, no one knows what Islam they are talking about. During the Taliban government they did not allow women for work, education, outside without male and son while these rights are not prohibited in Islam and neither the Islamic countries have deprived them from such basic rights. Given the report cart of Taliban in the past and given the inflexible position of Taliban against government and Afghan people, no one is sure what would happen if the “Islamic Emirate” re-dominates on the country.  Therefore, any peace agreement with Taliban should be with practical and written guarantee about women freedom and democratic values in the country. Bye and large, it is the humanitarian obligation of all countries to listen to concerns of women in Afghanistan. The Taliban must give written commitment to respect women and minority groups’ rights when they return in the society.  Afghan women do not want peace at any cost. Women comprise half of the society, and more vulnerable. Hence, their rights and freedom must not be dealt at any cost.  The Afghan allies and Afghan negotiators are expected to remain committed for protection women’s rights and freedom. The women of today are not the women of twenty years before and so Taliban must be convinced to respect the two decades achievement costly attained in the country.   However, the Afghan government has always assured women that their rights will not be affected negatively after a peace deal with the Taliban. According to experts, no peace process is perfect unless considering justice, inclusiveness and sustainability. Hence, their rights and freedom must not be forgotten in the peace process.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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