AIMS Peace Village Organization is a local non-political and non-profit organization in Afghanistan; it is formed by a group of peace loving Afghan citizens who work together in the service of the people of Afghanistan. Their main purpose is to contribute towards peace, cultural and social development of Afghanistan. It activities include educational, cultural and environmental services mainly in Kabul through workshops, conferences, cleaning projects, and providing humanitarian aids. Their mission is to see the realization of a peaceful and developed Afghanistan where. They can be found on Facebook and emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org too.
The role of women in Afghan society has changed over the years. Living in a traditional society that prefers women to be invisible, women have their roles being very much limited to the private family life, in such roles as mothers and being the house keeper. In rural areas some women also participate in farming, working on the fields with their male family members or alone, taking care of the family animals and livestock outside home. In urban areas women were increasingly taking more social roles and were serving as teachers, nurses, doctors, administrators and rarely politicians before the 1990s.
After decade of dark civil wars and extensive violation of human rights in the country, the changes which come about in 2001 provided women the opportunity to take different roles. And now in addition to their traditional roles as mothers and housekeepers, they are politicians, teachers, professors, doctors, managers, lawyers, journalists, students, etc. In the cities women can take many more roles similar to that of the men. However, in many provinces of the country women remain restricted by traditional norms and practices. While there has been a legal recognition that women can take any role in the society as men, there has been a limited development to materialize the ideal of gender equality in Afghanistan.
There has been positive change for women, as we have seen the number of girls going to schools and universities has increased dramatically, some women now work in business in the major cities. And generally women’s social and political participation has also improved. To some degree women have better access to justice, and they express their views and have their voice heard through media CSOs and AIHRC. In law women rights have also been recognized, Afghanistan’s constitution states that women are equal to men although with the reservation that it has to be reconciled with Islamic rules.
To continue on the path of realizing gender equality and to make the achieved changes sustainable an emphasis has to be made on the role of education, supporting women to take leadership roles and be economically self-dependent. Women’s rights activists and organizations supporting these rights have to be supported to allow them to raise their voice more strongly on the need to continue to support and develop the progress already achieved in women’s rights. Therefore any peace talks and reconciliation with the Taliban and others parties can in no way be forgone at the expense of women’s rights. New reforms have to continue to realize equal rights and opportunities for women by taking compensative measures in educating girls, ensuring their participation in police, military and so on.
The challenges facing women in Afghanistan are standing against norms imposed by the old tribal-religious mindsets of many men and women in this country which restricts women’s social and political participation and limits the opportunities for their self development and seeing their talents. Poverty, lack of access to education, health care and justice are also challenges faced by Afghan women rather than men, this is particularly a major challenge for those women living in rural areas. Maternal disease is still a big threat which still takes the life of many women especially in remote areas of the country.
Honor-driven violence, addiction, force marriage, malnutrition, economic dependence, trauma resulting from wars and other types of violence also threaten the life’s, security and development of women in Afghanistan.
Those women who are educated and participate in social activities find themselves at times facing discrimination and prejudice in their work places. Some people still look at women as inferior, less capable, and in some cases more evil and susceptible to immorality and corruption. However, these stereotypes and mind frames shaped over many years could be undone through purposeful efforts and insightful policies.
To ensure equality both men and women’s attitudes have to change so that to eliminate the discrimination and violence against women. The long lived discriminatory believes that vindicates the inferiority and dependency of women has to be changed. To bring about this change the following things have to take place:
- A change at policy and legal level: Laws have to be reviewed and examined, and the discriminatory provisions have to be omitted and replaced. The law of eliminating all kinds of discrimination against women has to be applied strictly and the other required laws and regulations have to be passed. A special policy has to be taken to address the negative consequences of long years of discrimination imposed on women, such as special policies to facilitate and encourage women participation in the military and higher education.
- A change at socio-economic-cultural levels: The reinterpretation of Islam has to be encouraged. Religious scholars has to be encouraged to support a more moderate Islam, and any illegal punishment of women by traditional courts or restriction of their activities has to be closely watched and legally addressed. Special encouragement and incentives have to be provided for women businesses and employment. And women organizations and schools have to be supported and funded. The religious views on women’s rights and status which are discriminatory need to be reversed.
- A change at individual level: there need to be special programs, such as workshops, held for women to address their empowerment, trauma healing, management, leadership and so on. Literacy programs have to be continued and new programs taken to cover women especially in rural areas. To allow women in Afghanistan to develop their futures justice has to be more available to them through providing especial legal aides; effective rule of law will also provide a safe atmosphere for women to participate and move towards a more active political and social participation. This is the main guarantee for women future development.
Women need to be supported and trained to allow them to have their own small scale businesses, vocations and activities both in the cities and villages. Funds and loans should be provided to allow women to have their own income and guarantee their economic independence. To ensure development maybe for a limited numbers of years, there should also be a special quota to ensure women have the opportunity to work and have their seats in the cabinet, parliament, courts and other levels of governance and policy making.
In education more girls’ school have to be built in the cities, towns and villages and special measures taken to encourage girls going to schools through government pressure and encouragement of clergy men and families. Special vocational and literacy courses have to be conducted particularly for rural women and they should be supported financially to enable them participate in these courses and set up their own activates once the courses finish. Women and girls need to get scholarships and fellowships to study and work abroad to accumulate experiences of living in other countries where the women taking more active role in the society.