Women’s freedom and dignity have been debated widely in Afghanistan, but still remain a challenging issue. Women are supposed to live a free and honorable life. A society should respect women and their rights, which are highly valued by religion. Religious tenets, moral standards and social norms of a society suggest women to live in a certain frame and there is no absolute freedom. These are all the common perspective about women in Afghan society.
Despite the establishment of democratic system in the post-Taliban Afghanistan, Afghan women are not able to exercise their rights and freedom to a large extent. There are many obstacles before women andthey are treated as pariahs in some parts of the country, mainly in the Taliban dominated areas. To view Afghanistan’s history, women left tortuous path behind. The emergence of liberal and fundamental mindsets in the past affected the liberty of women.
As Afghans would march towards voting centers on Saturday to practice democracy and elect their new MPs, UNAMA office in Kabul says full participation of women in Afghanistan’s electoral process is vital to ensure that upcoming parliamentary elections are inclusive and credible. According to UN agency elections are only truly representative and credible when women fully participate and are included in all parts of the electoral process.
UNAMA notes that 16 percent of candidates are women, a marginal increase on previous elections, and that women make up approximately 32 per cent of total registered voters, according to current statistics from the Independent Election Commission.
“Some commendable measures have been put in place to facilitate women’s participation, such as the presence of at least one dedicated female polling station per polling center, female polling staff and female security personnel,” a statement from the UN agency in Kabul said.
But despite of the progress made, historical changes affected the rights and freedoms of women in the country. They strongly suffered under dictatorial regimes, dogmatic beliefs, and patriarchal system, especially during the Taliban’s regime. Currently, women are not free from traditional cultures or dogmatic practices. They still suffer from discrimination.Although women are equal to men constitutionally, they are not treated equal in collective life.
The UN entity stresses that women’s full participation – as candidates, electoral workers, observers and voters – is the civil and political right of all women. Enhancing women’s participation in all stages of the electoral process is vital for strengthening democracy in Afghanistan. Elections provide a key opportunity for ensuring women’s concerns are addressed and women’s meaningful participation in the political, economic and social future of the country is maximized.
Since its inauguration, the national unity government in partnership with international community and afghan women rights activists have taken some meaningful strides to restore human dignity and improve the social standing of Afghan women.
Afghan women do have marginal role in politics, economy, sports, education and other aspects of the society. But a real and enduring success depends on continued commitment, partnership and assistance on part of all parties- including women themselves- to deliver those promises to concrete and sustainable achievements.