Historically, Afghan women have always been marginalized and accorded subordinate status. The position of women in the family and society has been shaped by many factors and there are strong cultural and historical roots of gender discrimination.
Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic and traditional society that has been governed along tribal lines. In addition, the long years of war and violence in the country, and the resulting unstable political and economic situation, have had a particularly severe impact on women. There were some attempts to introduce reforms but these were often met by strong tribal and religious opposition and resistance from conservative patriarchal forces, and later undermined during the civil war in the early 1990s when Mujahedeen leaders fought for control. The rights of women were eroded even further when the Taliban came into power in 1996. With such fundamentalist religious forces taking the dominant position in society, the position of women suffered a major setback and even took a retrogressive turn.
Since the new government inaugurated in 2001, the political and cultural position of Afghan women has shown improvement to some extent. A robust policy framework has been put in place by the government for the welfare of women. Notable among the core strategic documents that make up this framework are the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDSF), and National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). These developments have been successful in keeping the issue of women’s empowerment high on the country’s development agenda.
Today, girls account for more than one-third of school children compared to nearly none in 2002. More than a hundred thousands of young women have finished secondary school, and hundred thousands of others are working on university degrees. Dozens of businesses are woman-owned, and women make up more than 25 percent of the Afghan parliament.
But recently a number of women have voiced concern over their lack of presence in the peace process and even have said that they don’t see themselves in peace negotiating teams.
The government of Afghanistan is committed to providing more education and job opportunities to girls and women, support women’s management and leadership role; provide special attention to women’s economy, women’s health, and women’s legal properties as well as their presence in peace process
The Government is determined to fulfill all its commitments for women and will bring a fundamental sustainable change in women’s role in the society. By appointing several women as ministers, deputy ministers and directors in the government, NUG has already proved the delivery of its promises in regard to women empowerment.
So it is essential to support the Afghan government to further empower women and give them the rights they deserve. There are challenges ahead of women in this country; where such challenges can be solved with the help of each other.