There are many parts around the world where women’s rights are considered being already in its advanced state, but sadly there are also countries around the world wherein women’s rights is still marginalized and trampled upon by male chauvinistic drives and the rule of the predominantly male clique, and Afghanistan is one of these countries. Afghanistan is not just the prototype of fragile political landscape, it is also a country that is notorious for not giving any importance to the rights of women for justice and equality across many different aspects and sectors and areas of social life, including education, health, justice and the exercise of political rights.
Hena Efat, women’s rights advocate in Afghanistan, was herself a witness to how Afghanistan before curtailed many of women’s rights particular during the pre-2001 Afghanistan. Efat was one of the women who were derived with the chance to go to a decent school where she can earn a degree and become a professional. She experienced how Afghan institutions like health care and hospital services were not concerned about the problems of Afghan women, like Efat’s mother who was not accepted for treatment in one of Afghanistan’s hospitals even though the injuries she sustained during a hit and run was so serious that it was life threatening. The reason for such rejection – ‘they had…decided that women are no longer allowed to be treated at the hospital’ (Brown, 2001, par 7).
But through the years leading to the more contemporary 21st century years, the focusing of the global attention towards what is happening in Afghanistan not just on the part of armed conflict and terrorism activities enabled Afghanistan women’s rights advocates locally and from foreign groups are seeing signs pointing to the possibility that Afghanistan indeed has been improving when it comes to women’s rights.The question is – are this baby steps that lead to a particular concrete development or are these important strides that will help define the future of women’s rights in the country for year to come?There are many reasons why women’s rights are suppressed in Afghanistan – there are religious reasons as well as political and social reasons, all of which are highly influential in the stratification and delegation of women’s rights and the setting of the limitation of what women can and cannot do inside a society that is still characterized by a highly traditional patriarchal thinking and male-dominated social rule.The world, particularly the US, is very much aware of how bad the situation is in Afghanistan that in 2001 they used a UN sanction to bolster the clamor for improved women’s rights practice and observation in the country. Johnson (2004) writes’Their harboring of Osama Bin laden, whom the USA believed responsible for the bombing of its embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998, along with an increasingly vociferous campaign mounted by prominent American feminists, had earned them the disapproval of the superpower…the USA had three demands: the end of support for terrorists; improvement in women’s rights; and an end to the growing of opium poppy’ (pg 28).There are some points that lead to the belief that there are indeed improvements when it comes to the women’s rights in Afghanistan; in fact, in 2003 an article in the Human Rights News website mentions about how current attack on women and girls in the country in that year alone endangers ‘gains made on women’s rights’ in the country in the period of one year alone.
This statement means that groups are acknowledging that the effort to promote the observance of women’s rights in the country has already yielded positive results and improvements in women’s rights.The report points out that women’s rights in education scored a win after efforts are being made to have Afghanistan girls be able to attend school, something which lately is becoming difficult because of the violence resulting from warlords in the country, deterring the efforts targeting the improvement of human rights all in all, including that of women and girls in the country (2003, par 4).There are also some improvements in the right of women to hold positions which are political in nature, signaling the slow destruction of the walls that Afghan males previously erected to keep women out of politics and social aspects that are directly involved in it, that is why when Dr. Sima Samar was appointed as the Minister for Women’s Affairs while the position Minister of Public Health was awarded to Dr. Suhaila Seddiqi, many saw it as an important improvement in women’s rights advocacy in Afghanistan.In education, there were also more and more signs being seen by the people appearing in the post 2001 Afghanistan country.
In 2002 BBC reported about the return of many women students to Kabul University, something that some Afghan girls already gave up on after five years has passed since the right to tertiary education was removed from Afghan women.Conclusion – A lot has changed in Afghanistan after 2001, and it is good to know that included in the movement to go forward is the observation of women’s rights in every different field of social life. This was made possible by the continuous efforts coming form local and foreign groups that are fighting for the restoration and preservation of women’s rights all over the world, and Afghanistan is just one of the many different places that require serious work on that part. It was because of Afghanistan’s previous geopolitical set up that led to the trampling of women’s rights, as explained by Moghadam (2003) who said that these problems ‘obscured the importance of the struggle over women’s rights, a question that has long confronted Afghan modernizing elites but whose result ion has been consistently thwarted’ (pg 228).
It is a good sign that many groups and institutions found in the country are starting to understand the role that women would play in the cycle of the everyday social life, and how she is not capable of doing that because of restrictions that are hinged on overly traditional beliefs of gender control and manipulation.Works Cited:“Afghanistan: Warlords Implicated in New Abuses.” Human Rights Watch.
29 July 2003. 28 April 2008 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1804904.stm>.