Each year, March 8 is celebrated as the International Women’s Day (IWD) around the world. The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women while highlighting the problems they face in day-to-day life as well as in the professional environment.
Despite of two decades of fights and sacrifices, there has been improvement to women’s rights in Afghanistan. Now, numbers of women are able to enjoy hard-won freedoms, but they fear these will be lost if the Taliban return to power unconditionally.
Recently, the extremist group has shown their intention about women’s rights and freedom with attacks on a number of women, including female journalists, judges and civil activists in the country. Contrary to Afghan’s culture that has special respect to women’s position, the terrorists, misusing Afghan, and Islamic teachings, have been sparing no efforts to target mothers, sisters and those girls working for development of their war-torn country.
Indeed, Afghan women suffered severely under the Taliban and during civil unrest. They were treated as pariahs and discriminated against in the wake of their gender. The Taliban closed girls’ schools and violated women’s rights and freedoms to a great extent. Women were viewed as inferior creature and treated unjustly.
But, the abilities and capabilities of women are beyond doubt and if they are given equal platform similar to that of their male counterparts, they will bring about many positive changes in the society. Afghan women proved their bravery as they continued following their education as well as their social and political activities despite hurdles and challenges. Meanwhile, a number of Afghan women serve in police rank and security sectors in the wake of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and life-threatening issues.
Since the last four decades of war and bloodshed had negative consequences on Afghan culture and traditions, it is very important that besides combating terrorism, cultural values should be also amended. Our culture should be based on moral standards and national and international laws. The violent practices in tribal belts have no legal basis. They trample upon women’s fundamental rights – rights to life, liberty and property – with impunity.
In other words, the lurid reports about women in tribal areas make the headlines, frequently, on national media. Although Afghan women have sacrificed their lives to obtain freedom, it remained no more than a phantom in their minds and their selfless sacrifices did not bear the desired fruit.
Constitutionally, there is no prejudice against women on the basis of their sex and their rights and dignity should be respected and protected the same as men’s. Afghanistan’s Constitution states in article 22 as, “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.”
Indeed, celebration 8th of March shouldn’t be limited to a single day, but much should be done to raise awareness for protection of women’s rights and that their role should be considered crucial in the peace talks.
It is believed that Afghan women are not able to break the traditional taboos by their actions, which are embedded deeply in our society and will be ensued by death or reputational damage, but through raising their voice against violent practices.
In addition, the civil society activists, media, politicians and those supporting democratic processes and the Human Rights, are supposed to be the de facto advocates of women’s rights. Hence, Afghan women need a stable structure to exercise their inherent rights with a peace of mind. It is hoped that the state will evolve legal and democratic structure so as to protect women’s rights and dignity.