Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

International Women’s Day Celebrates with Fears and Concerns in Afghanistan

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International Women’s Day Celebrates with Fears and Concerns in Afghanistan

Today, it is coincided with 8th March, the international women’s solidarity day. This day is predominantly celebrated throughout the world with highlighting women’s achievement and raising awareness about gender equality and women rights, but in Afghanistan there seems no achievement other than rise of violence and rise of concerns regarding women’s ambiguous future. Therefore, women’s international day is celebrated in Afghanistan with fear and concern about the future of women in the country. Unfortunately, the peace outlook seems complicated and dark while the women’s enemies are becoming more powerful than ever. As a result, the women community is becoming more concerned of returning Taliban with the same mentality and views when experienced from 1996 – 2001 in Afghanistan.  In 1995, when Taliban took over the power, women were the first group who were put in cage depriving from social and educational activities.
Many local analysts think that there seem no fundamental changes in mentality of Taliban and other terrorist groups as their behavior have not changed about women. If we look back in last 12 twelve months, a large number of women were killed as a result of target attacks in the country. The terrorist have successively targeted those women who worked in social and political arenas. Therefore, a significant proportion of the victims of the war in Afghanistan are still women, children and other civilians. The civilian’s causalities have extremely risen since the start of peace talks. According to international organizations, 2020, which could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan, but the war has victimized more civilians than ever before. It is said that out of more than 3,000 civilian casualties, women and children account for 43% of civilian casualties. In particular, 390 women were killed in Afghanistan last year as a result of the war and conflicts.
Nevertheless, the Taliban has repeatedly responded to the public concerns about rights of women saying they would respect the rights of women accordance with Islamic rule and regulations. Despite this, no one trusts on Taliban promises because of different reasons. Firstly, their words seems paradoxical to their actions as aforementioned that women and children account for 43% of civilian casualties within one last year. Secondly, 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 Taliban re-dominates on the country.  Therefore, any peace agreement with Taliban should be with practical and written guarantee about democratic values, women freedom and more importantly women education. 
In fact, the Women education needs to be defined as redline in talks with Taliban. Many women activists think that the issue of women education has not solved for Taliban yet. During few last years, many girls’ schools were ignited or shut down due to the Taliban threats.  Therefore, Afghan women have repeatedly expressed concerns about the future of their educations in the country. Unfortunately, the Taliban has no written resources to explain their views and plans about everything. Therefore, everything seems ambiguous including women issue. Given the last two decade experiences and women progress, Afghanistan will be more resilient in the face of any crisis when women work side by side with men in all roles, including at the highest levels of decision-making. This will not be possible without women’s education in the country.
Given these concerns and ambiguity, the UN and the US are expected to play key role and clear role for the future of Afghanistan, especially future of women in the current peace process. It is said that the new US administration is still reviewing its agreement with the Taliban. During Tramps, it was nearly two years that the United States and the Taliban negotiated then not only the fragile situation of women but also the fragile situation Afghanistan had been completely marginalized from the table. The previous US administration thought the future of women was a domestic problem to be solved by Afghans themselves. But Joe Biden, unlike his predecessors, believes in the values of human rights, pluralism, and the recognition of the rights of minorities and women. Therefore, the expectation of Afghan women from the United States and the international community is that in negotiating with the Taliban, the protection of women’s rights and minority groups should be defined as a fundamental principle. Otherwise, the women and other minority groups would be more victimized in the country.
Last but not least, it is said that the family violence has extremely increased in one last year in Afghanistan. The family violence increased largely because of poverty, unemployment, psychological pleasure due to covid-19 and other difficulties which steadily increased in recent years.  According to the Ministry of Women, 136 women were killed last year as a result of family violence while a year earlier, 90 women had lost their lives in family violence. On this account, the family violence has increased by about 50% within one last year. It is said that 7,000 cases of violence against women have been registered in the Ministy of Women throughout the year, of which 4,000 have been criminalized. Nonetheless, the family violence is only a part of reality in women’s lives in Afghanistan. Women are more concerned about the uncertain future which may come out as a result of negotiations with the Taliban.

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

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