Social

‘Afghan women will not go back’

March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day, a day when women are recognized for their achievements, efforts and struggles.
International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.
The earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day,” was held on February 28, 1909 in New York, organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel. Though there have been claims that the day was commemorating a protest by women garment workers in New York on March 8, 1857, researchers have described this as a myth.
In August 1910, an International Socialist Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen , Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual Women’s Day and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, supported by Käte Duncker, although no date was specified at that conference.
Women delegates from 17 countries agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights including suffrage for women. The following year on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. 
Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations. The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programs and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Today, International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries and largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood.
In Afghanistan, the day is celebrated with motto titled ‘Afghan women will not go back’. We should not forget that presence of women has increased in various levels of government’s institutions since the beginning of national unity government. Currently, Afghanistan has three women ambassadors to the US, Norway and Swiss. Women presence in Afghanistan cabinet is also unprecedented.
Increasing presence of women in the parliamentary elections has shown that women can play vital role in a democratic system. For example, 417 women were candidates for parliamentary elections. According to the country’s constitution, from 250 seats, 68 seat should be allotted for women in parliament; showing that situation in Afghanistan in the field of observance of women rights in legislative is better than many countries in the world.
Currently, 28 percent of Afghanistan parliament seats belongs to women, showing 8 percent increase in number of women in US parliament.
It should not be forgotten that Afghan women have risen from ashes and smoke by passing dark years of the history. They are working shoulder to shoulder with Afghan men for rebuilding of Afghanistan. Providing further facilitation to women in various sectors is one of key responsibilities and a serious need for the government.
Women are the real victims of ongoing war in the country; therefore, their voice should not be ignored in ongoing peace talks with the Taliban group. In national women consensus’s session held recently, the government and Taliban were asked for unconditionally ceasefire in the country. Women participants in the session issued a resolution that has stressed on protection of the country’s constitution, saying that they wanted and accepted a peace that could protect the system, achievements and values that have achieved during the past 17 years.
Regarding to role of women in peace consultative Jirga, head of secretariat of High Peace Council (HPC) has said at least 30 percent of the jirga’s members would be women and no hidden dealing would be carried out without presence of women. In a new report, Afghanistan Attorney General Office (AGO) has declared that the number of women employees has jumped to 22 percent within the institution. According to AGO, active presence of women in the institution is necessary to better address cases of violence against women and corruption.
On the other hand, in its recent report, Afghanistan Independent Commission of Administrative Reforms and Civil Services (AICARC) has said that presence of women in security as well as foreign relations is 5.9 percent. According to the commission report, in the past two years, presence of women in development, agriculture is 4.9 percent, in education and higher education 33.2 percent, in governance, rule of law and human rights 5.2 percent, in judicial sector 14.9 percent, in maintenance 44.4 percent, in health sector 24.1 percent, in economic and financial sector 9.7 percent, in infrastructure sector 9 percent and cultural, religious and sport 5 percent.
We should also accept that Afghan women are living in a situation affected by continued war and violence, but the country’s national unity government has made continued efforts to maintain women rights so that the impacts of the continued war, destruction and poverty are somehow compensated.
Lailuma Noori

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