Afghan women living conditions drastically changed
Women in Afghanistan are still victims of worst kinds of cases of violence but considerable changes have been observed in the living standards of women during the last 13 years, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said.
Afghan women who comprise half of country’s population were deprived of their basic rights during Taliban’s despotic regime but drastic changes were seen soon after the ouster of the hard-line militia.
Now women have forced their way into the parliament, serve at ministries, lead civil society organizations and stepped up their efforts to further protect their rights.
AIHRC Commissioner Suraya Sobhrang said women are indirectly engaged in political, economic, social, and other sectors. In addition, women folk are active in private sector, run businesses and civil society organizations.
She told Pajhwok Afghan News thousands of schools had been built in the last decade where more than 9 million children, including girls, were being imparted advanced education.
Sobhrang said women had been playing hectic role in country and nation’s building. Most of the women are poets, writers, analysts and academics. Women face no threat to take part in activities in recent years, she added.
Recognizing its responsibility, the AIHRC in different parts of the country have launched several programs for women such as, literacy courses, vocational training, awareness programs and ways to reach to self-patronage, she added.
In addition, women have been educated about the prevailing national and international laws, Sobhrang said, adding women in Afghanistan could be seen driving, teaching and performing their duties in multidimensional areas which is a sign of their independence.
However, the AIHRC official admits that worst cases of violatence against women are happened still sporadically despite a decade long efforts for elimination of injustice against women. At least 16 to 24% surges in violence have been reported in recent years, she added.
She added steps had been taken for elimination of violence against women. Ulama, security forces and civil society organizations have extended their all out support to AIHRC to protect women rights.
The AIHRC official said a number of intellectual women have formed the “Afghanistan Women Charter” some six months back in which political, economic and social rights of women are garneted.
Sobhrang said: “We hope the next president will endorse Afghanistan women Charter after which it will become a law and will be applicable.”
Khaista Fana Ibrahimkhel, head of human rights and women affairs at ministry of foreign affairs, said women have vital role in bringing peace and stability to the country. The formation of a strategy was underway in which women would be given greater role for bringing peace to the country.
Fauzia Habibi, deputy women affairs minister said, violence against women was an international issue and women in Afghanistan were also the victim of violent behaviours.
She said reasons behind growing violence against women in Afghanistan were lawlessness, rampant poverty and psychological disorder, adding that Afghanistan has passed through decades of war and suffered economic sanctions.
She said four to five thousands cases of violence against women happed in Afghanistan annually, including their verbal and physical harassment.
She said the Ministry of Women Affairs is a policy making institute, it is responsible for projecting women related issues and stepping up measures for their development.
She appreciated the role of women lawmakers saying that Afghanistan ranked 20 in world as far as the women role in law making processes is concerned.
Habibi went on to say the government has given priority to women’s problem and focused more to promote programs and policies with regard of women affairs. Ministry of Women Affairs currently has eight national policies that focus on women’s economic issues, eliminating violence against women and their political participation in government affairs.
The ministry has three major laws supporting women including elimination of violence against women, family law and children’s custody, Habibi added.
The new government for the first time approved Women’s Supporting Centers that encouraged 300,000 women to serve as businesspersons. According to a report released by Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), about 700 companies are administered by women in the country.
The ministry has opened 180 more centres to facilitate illiterate women, selling their handicrafts and their vocational training.
Habibi said the United Nation Development Programs (UNDP) and an Indian organization have also supporting Afghan women in training them in vocational and educational courses.
The Ministry of Women affairs planned to create small economic projects for women through local councils so that they could work at their homes and earn enough to meet their needs.
She said that livelihood of Afghan women have improved considerably but women in remote and rural areas of the country still have not access to proper health, education and freedom facilities.
Habibi thanked international community for its support for women and said: “We still need support of foreign organizations to promote women living standard.”
Schoolteachers are also happy about the improvement of women affairs during the past decade.
Abida, principal of Amania private school in Kabul, said girls had now access to schools and working outside and pursue higher education after the Taliban ousted from power in 2001.
“A number of women serve in the cabinet while some others in civil society organizations to defend their rights. Most of the women hold key government positions. All these mean that role of women are multiplied and they have now greater role in nation building,” Abida added.
Another teacher Shima from Manu Chahr School also said that there were now greater opportunities for women to play their role or to get education or work outside their homes.
The only way to improve women lives is to let them seek education then they will be in a better position to defend their rights, she added.
But Shima expressed concerns over increasing violence against women in some provinces and said that they were suffering from patriarchy and negative tribal tradition.
A resident of the capital Kabul city, Gul Makai, said women in Taliban regime could not go outside their homes and they were barred to work in offices or earn their livelihood.
She said women in the current Afghan government were serving as leaders, assistants, doctors, engineers, teachers and others and they proved to discharge their duties in different capacities.
But at the same time she also expressed concern over increasing violence against women and asked relevant officials to adopt measure to protect women community. She asked the next president to support women and ensure equal rights for them.
During the past 13 years, a large number of associations and civil society networks had been established in support of women.
Director for Afghanistan Women Association, Shahla Maihandost, said that improvement in women’s life in the past one decade was not enough because most of them in remote areas of the country were still suffering serious problems.
She said poverty in the country has led to increase in violence against women in the society, with most of the people are jobless which ultimately lead to surge in violence.
Sadiqa Balkhi, a representative for Balkh province in Meshrano Jirga, said that a large number of women on the Election Day on April 5 came out from their houses and participated in the democratic process. She added participation by women in the election showed a great improvement in their lives.
Not only educated, but uneducated women have also showed interest in the polling process, Balkhi added.
Women have also played their role in security sector, with some of them are serving as corporals, generals, pilots and holding other positions.
Ministry of Interior (MoI)’s human and children rights gender director, Lt. Col. Hikmat Shahi Rassouli said some policewomen are serving as generals under the framework of the ministry but negative costume in Afghan society still an obstacle against women.
“Policewomen can play a vital role to enforce the country’s laws,” he said.
“As woman doctor is needed for a community, a woman policeperson is also needed equally. Policewomen can work in women section so that Islamic law is better applied,” Rassouli added.
Afghan women also had achievements in sports sector, including mountaineering, race, football, volleyball, basketball, bodybuilding, karate and other games.
Olympics’ women section director, Shukuria Hikmat, said women could not go out from their houses during Taliban’s era but now they can travel to foreign countries and compete in different games.
She added 25 kinds of sports have so far opened for women in the country where hundreds of girls have improved their skills.
But she complained women sports’ centres still lack some facilities.
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