By: Suraya Raiszada
With continued efforts of Afghanistan government towards life situation of Afghan women in the country, international organizations have said women rights in Afghanistan have improved considerably since 2001.
Amnesty International in a statement has said that while much work remains to be done, women’s rights have improved significantly since 2001. There are now 3.3 million girls in education, and women more actively participate in the political, economic and social life of the country. Despite ongoing conflict, Afghan women have become lawyers, doctors, judges, teachers, engineers, athletes, activists, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, business owners, police officers, and members of the military.
However, Afghan women still face major obstacles to the full realization of their rights. Violence against women is rife, the participation of women at all levels of government remains limited and, according to UNICEF, 2.2 million Afghan girls still do not attend school, the statement said.
Amnesty International by expressing concern over current situation in Afghanistan says as international troops continue to leave the country ahead of a full withdrawal on 11 September, and with talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban at an impasse, the prospects for Afghanistan’s women and girls are at a critical juncture. A new date for a high-level round of peace talks in Istanbul, postponed since April, is yet to be confirmed.
“Two decades of hard-won progress by Afghanistan’s women and girls is at serious risk of being unravelled,” Amnesty International said, highlighting the limited involvement of women in the peace talks and the major strides on women’s rights that are now under threat.
It says Afghanistan is at a tipping point. As peace talks falter, the conflict continues to take the lives of civilians on an almost daily basis.
Under Taliban rule from 1996-2001, Afghan women were subjected to severe restrictions including being banned from working outside the home and appearing in public without a close male relative. Women and girls were further denied access to education and had limited access to healthcare. These restrictions still invariably apply to women in areas currently controlled by the Taliban, according to Amnesty International.
It says in the current peace
talks, which began in September 2020, the 21-member Afghan government negotiation team included only four women, with no women represented in the Taliban delegation. In the March peace conference on Afghanistan in Moscow, only one woman was included in the 16-member government delegation.
Amnesty International has called on Afghanistan government and its international partners to unequivocally commit and work to ensure that women’s rights and two decades of achievement are not traded off in the peace talks with the Taliban.
A number of Afghan women political experts and women rights activists say despite of considerable developments in society, Afghan women are still facing with various challenges. They say lack of justice, lack of job security, lack of access to heir and lack of their presence in big political issues are among obstacles preventing women from going forward.
“Although Afghanistan government have paved the way for considerable presence of Afghan women in government institutions, there is still long way to women’s presence in public environment and their participation in private sector and trade,” said Safia Hamnawa, a women rights activist.
She stressed that there were concerns that Afghan women’s achievements were ignored in peace talks and possible agreement between Afghanistan government and Taliban as women have been side-lined in talks with the Taliban group. Afghan political experts say Afghanistan government should adopt clear stance in connection with talks with Taliban and any decisions if made in connection with maintaining peace in the country should be shared with the people of Afghanistan particularly women.