The Plight Of Women In Afghanistan – OpEd


Afghanistan has remained in the dark shadows of war since 1979. USSR ended the Cold War in 1989 after withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan. The imposed war on Afghanistan has inflicted the entire country upon multidimensional crises and millions of people fled to neighboring countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asian states. Specifically, women rights are extremely violated. 

Historically, from Soviet withdrawal, Afghan people were drowned into another misfortune when civil war took place by war lords and “mujahideen” and that resulted into the appearance of Taliban to take control over Afghanistan. It is reported that many civilians have lost their lives at the hands of the Taliban, sharia law was imposed and basic human rights were violated. The most suffered in Afghanistan were the female gender that has increased the population of widows, orphan daughters, and sisters that had lost their relatives in war against USSR and aftermath by Taliban.

Women education has affected mostly, during Taliban regime of 1990s, reducing girls’ enrollment in and graduation from schools, colleges, and universities in Afghanistan. Even modern education for women was ban due to strictly implementing the so-called “Islamic laws” in some areas in Afghanistan.  had a record reduced number of students at that time. In war-torn country, women were mostly deprived of basic health facilities, equal status in society and politics, women were prosecuted in public places, facing family members disappeared and face social and psychological unrest in Afghanistan. The socio-emotional costs inflicted to women include their disrespect, tagging their character, othering in social norms, marginalizing in social, economic and political spheres of life. 

By nature, and biological compositions, females are more sensitive than male segments of societies, they are peace-loving, caring for their families and rearing siblings of their families, and binding sources of familial structures in human societies. Yet, and their associations and sentimental beings face much sufferings during or after the wars. In Afghan, women have been suffering for decades! 

The examples of Afghan women migrants to cross borders and miserably live in Pakistan and Iran in refugee camps without basic amenities of life are glaring evidences to support of plight of Afghan women in wars.   

Similarly, the impacts of 9/11 on Afghan women did not proved differently. The US and NATO forces have brought Afghanistan into a disastrous war. Wars never bring peace. Afghan people displaced inside even migrated out of country, leaving their homes, properties, businesses, and relatives, again affecting women to higher extend. The honorable families of Afghan people were disrespected and humiliated in various locations and their destinations both inside and outside Afghanistan. 

Afghan women started beggary and other humiliated professions for livelihood earning to themselves and their kids and weak families across Pakistan, Iran, and neighboring countries. No country had designed humanitarian programs for uplifting socio-economic status of refugees, set aside for Afghan refugee women. Women again lagged behind in education, health, sanitation, social status, dignity, pride, respect and their role in daily lives both inside and outside of Afghanistan. 

Even, UN Organization for refugees (UNHCR) and humanitarian organizations did not work for socioeconomic development of Afghan women. It’s the Afghan women who were left in a lurch without assistance. The plight of Afghan women has not stopped here. It is continuing to decline and voices of the weak Afghan women are never noticed by great powers that labeled themselves the best democracies and champions of human and women rights in global press. The miserable statuses of hunger, fear, lawlessness, no shelter, social displacement and economically backwardness are the current state of the lives of Afghan women. Life is not easy for Afghan women at all in this current situation of war-torn Afghanistan.

The recent development of Taliban by capturing Kabul and rest of Afghanistan, the hopes for women empowerment have likely diminished by US troops withdrawal and the extinct of Afghan national government from Afghanistan. Afghan women will more suffer again by not recognizing women rights by the probable Taliban implementation of “Islamic rule” on Afghanistan. The evidences of hunger, fear, disrespect, non-permission of work, ban on women in public places, education ban and dismantling co-education system in educational institutes, no participation of woman member in the formation of interim Taliban cabinet, and many more human rights violations are some of the examples that will make Afghan women more suffer in Afghanistan. 

The policy recommendations must include women empowerment regulations as integral part of Taliban “Islamic rule” in Afghanistan. UN Women, as per its charters, must work for advancing women’s empowerment and rights, addressing discrimination and violence, and promoting sustainable socio-economic development towards achieving women’s rights in Afghanistan. UN Women must initiate collaborative efforts for Afghan women inclusion in national political model and must be endorsed by Taliban. The rights of education, decent work, extension of health facilities, recognition of their due social status and above all the preservation of women rights as per true spirit of the “Islamic rules” must be constitutionally protected for Afghan women in any sort of political regime in Afghanistan. 

*Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, Research Officer, Baluchistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), Quetta

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