Ali Parsa, is a senior student of political science in Ibn-e Sina University. He is originally from Bamian, but now lives with his family in Kabul. He was born in Tehran while his parents were living as immigrants in Iran. He now works in Nawroz weekly publication.
I think women in Afghanistan are experiencing a wide range of different rules. Some of them are trying to define new roles for women that would make them equal to men. For example, they drive cars around the city, they go to the gym and play sports, they protest and demonstrate for their rights and even ask our government to select a woman as one of nine members of the Supreme Court. Although these may be considered basic rights for women all around the world, they are new in the post-Taliban Afghanistan.
On the other hand, there are still a lot of women, mostly in small cities and villages who believe they should play the role of servants to the men. They can’t even imagine having rights in their lives. For instance, there are still women who believe that their men have the right to decide whether they live or die. The women in Afghanistan are playing both modern and primitive roles and the society as a whole has not yet fully accepted modern roles for them.
We are witnessing positive changes for women, mostly in the large cities of Afghanistan. However, I don’t think these changes are sustainable because human rights in Afghanistan are widely influenced by the threat of poor security. If we want to make these positive changes sustainable, we should first make peace and security sustainable in our country. I also think that education has a great role to play in sustaining these positive changes in Afghan society.
As I mentioned, I think safety is the main threat for all women in Afghanistan. To eliminate threats to their safety, we must first combat two other threats: our dependent economy and traditional culture. The poor economy mostly affects the urban and educated women. They know their rights and potential roles in society but they don’t have enough economic power to improve their situations and fulfill these roles. Rural women are mostly affected by the traditional culture which prevents them from even being informed of their rights and potential roles.
I think the most dangerous attitude against women’s rights in Afghan society is the fundamentalist reading of Islam accepted by the Taliban. We can fight against these attitudes both culturally and politically to defeat them.