Women’s role key to prosperous, modern Afghanistan

Women have suffered deeply during Afghanistan’s four decades of war, and they desperately long for peace. They have also fought ferociously for equality in the years since the fall of the Taliban government and have made great progress. Today there are women ministers and governors and judges and police and soldiers, and Afghanistan’s parliament has a higher percentage of women than does the US Congress.

But on February 29, the United States signed a fundamentally flawed deal with the Taliban on Afghanistan that foresees full military withdrawal in 14 months. The agreement — negotiated without Afghan government representatives or civil society, including Afghan women — supports the release of Taliban prisoners ahead of intra-Afghan talks and promises to remove sanctions. 

Before the Taliban regime was overthrown, women suffered most. Women and girls were deprived of virtually all their rights. They couldn’t attend school, work, or leave home without a male guardian and therefore there are increasing concerns over women’s rights post US-Taliban deal.

Violence and abuse were routinely justified during the Taliban regime in 90s. but today, the reality is profoundly different for many Afghan women and girls. Millions of girls attend school and women contribute to society as members of Parliament, civil servants, businesspeople, and ministers. These leaders advance the development of their country, and they exert a significant influence in support of a modern and moderate Afghanistan. 

Islam has granted women with all fundamental rights such as doing business, holding a possession, right to inheritance, education, work, choosing a life partner, security, health and life. As a result, Afghan women want rights that Islam has given them. Islam does not stop women from getting education or work, so women should have their presence in all parts, and they urge this issue should be clearly talked in peace negotiations.

Afghan government and its allies have time and again stressed that there would be no setback for women in the country. The government leaders have assured women on different occasions that their rights will not be affected negatively after a peace deal with the Taliban and that women’s rights would remain the redline for Afghan negotiating team during the intra-Afghan talks.

Besides political, cultural and social presence, Afghan women have had too effective entrepreneurial role in the country’s macroeconomic activities. They have been involved in key projects, including carpet weaving, packaging of the fresh and dry fruits, handicrafts and even that of the jewelry businesses. Therefore, it should be believed that investing on women is essential and beneficial for the country’s development.

There should be a corresponding strategy to improve the family economy based on women influence. In fact, by planning and doing such programs we ensure and build our future generation success and improvements. Raising women’s education and literacy make them train our future generation. Thus, we make firm the basis of future generation indirectly.

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.

The Constitution of Afghanistan states in article 22: “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.”

Since women are considered inferior neither in religious narratives nor in country’s law, the government shall enforce the law strictly and empower women through safeguarding their rights and dignity.

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