Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 19th, 2018

Concerns Regarding Women Rights Persist

Concerns regarding the rights of women in Afghanistan persist and they are, in fact, threatening the overall development. Though it is not a new issue that women suffer from discrimination and injustice, the attention paid to solve the issue is really negligible. Particularly, after the downfall of Taliban, there were expectations that the country would make strides in bringing women to social and political lives but the hopes have remained only hopes. Though some developments were made, they are being sacrificed as the country is moving towards instability and war.
A statement by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday revealed that women have largely been forgotten about in terms of development around gender-related programs. According to the ministry, a recent survey has found that development programs have focused on only one percent of women in the country. The Finance Ministry's financial deputy Mustafa Mastoor said in the statement, "The number that has not been focused on is not only a big (percentage of the) population but their voices have not been heard and this has resulted in big programs which have not (in turn) yielded good results over the past few years."
A study by Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) reveals that despite the fact that policies mention gender equality as an important issue, government's budget to practice these programs has been limited.
Meanwhile the Afghan Women Network (AWN) believes that women are not represented sufficiently in the government and, therefore, there should be more seats reserved for them in the future. Hasina Safi, AWN head, told a news conference in Kabul that they had prepared their suggestions for the upcoming Brussels Conference and they were aimed at encouraging the Afghan government to increase women’s role in its administration. Safi also said the AWN wanted women’s voice to be heard about their current situation and particularly their role to be considered in governance, law enforcement and the peace process.
Samira Hamidi, AWN board director, said, “Currently only four women are ministers, nine others are deputy ministers, four ambassadors and one woman is governor in the country. And, six percent of staff members of the attorney general’s office, eight percent of the Supreme Court and one percent of the Ministry of Defense are women.”
Afghan authorities need to make serious commitments about women as women in this country have not been empowered as much as they should be. Women in Afghanistan have been undergoing discriminatory behavior for decades now. The religious extremism and obsolete tribal values have been vehemently responsible for violation and violence against them. Even though, they have been echoing their concerns, they do not seem to get as much attention as possible in the patriarchal Afghan society. As a matter of fact, the male-chauvinistic ears are not ready to hear them though they feel their vibrations clearly. Nevertheless, the efforts in this regard must never be given up and they should continue in every possible way. One of the ways to rise up and be counted in the social and political life is to strive participating in the social and political institutions and processes. And, this is not the responsibility of a particular faction of society, not a particular stratum, not even a particular gender but of all those human beings have some concern and some love for human rights, the ones who believe in dignity of human beings and their existence without any differentiation of gender.
Particularly, men can play an imperative role. Though they have been mostly responsible for the discrimination, modern men can now change their attitude and commit themselves to make the difference. Fighting the discrimination and violence does not necessarily mean that women alone should shoulder the responsibility. There should be efforts to bring about changes in the attitude of men towards women; otherwise, fighting for the rights of women would be very difficult.
In similar fashion, the different institutions, functioning in the society must also fulfill their responsibilities and they must ensure that there should not be biased policies and attitude against the women. Their policies and practices must never be inclined towards discrimination and injustice on the basis of gender. Not only the women rights organization but different other social, political and administrative organizations can have a part in making sure that women are properly compensated within the system and are not neglected on the basis of prejudice.
In the countries like Afghanistan, the religious and tribal institutions can also play tremendous role in uplifting the position of women and giving them the status they deserve. As most of the people are religious and tribal, they can easily be motivated by such institutions for better and higher purposes.
It is important that the efforts regarding women rights do not end only in conferences and celebrations by certain organizations and individuals but in resolute commitments and most importantly practical efforts for the rights and position of women. The upcoming Brussels Summit must emphasize that this really happens.