Noorjahan Akbar, is a Afghan national born in Kabul in 1991, she is a women’s rights activist with a deep love and appreciation for literature and writing. She learnt English and basic computer skills when her family moved to Peshawar after the Taliban entered Afghanistan. In 2001, she returned to Afghanistan and started an English language centre for about 400 women in the Qalaye Fatehullah region of Kabul. She created Young Women for Change (YWC), an organization dedicated to empowering Afghan women in April of 2011, and worked with the organization until it became self-sufficient on September 2012.
She also writes about issues regarding gender discrimination and youth and women’s activism for several Afghan and international websites, newspapers and magazines and dream of living a life dedicated to promoting gender equality and education in Afghanistan.
Women have many different roles in afghan society they are teachers, doctors, engineers, architects, mothers, administrators, governmental employees, police, army officers, members of special forces, pilots, journalists, photographers, athletes, etc, but most importantly women are agents of change in Afghanistan.
There has been positive change in women’s access to education and health care also has increased. Maternal mortality has decreased noticeably and women are organizing and creating groups to build solidarity and awareness. Women are now part of the media, as journalists and producers, and help shape what issues are discussed in the media and how they are discussed. However many of these changes are fragile because of negotiations with the Taliban, which is why we need to make sure women’s rights and human rights won’t be dealt away in any peace negotiation settlement.
Lack of security, economic poverty, and lack of wide-spread grassroots activism and political focus on women’s rights are some of the main challenges facing women in Afghanistan. Women in rural areas deal with issues of forced marriage, lack of education and gender-based violence more than women in urban areas and they have little access to the law and legal system. Urban women suffer more from street harassment, poverty, work harassment, discrimination and lack of security at work place, sexual assault, lack of safe transportation, etc.
To ensure equality both men and women’s attitudes need to be changed. Women must learn not to discriminate against one another, not to perpetuate inequalities that exist in the society and most importantly respect and believe in themselves as women. Men need to learn to respect women as equals. This is not particular to Afghanistan and not true about all men or women. Men everywhere seem to have a hard time viewing women as completely equal to themselves and worthy of the same level of respect and amount of opportunities, and women need to work together with men to change that.
The most important factors in women’s future development are education and employment. Women must, at any cost, continue their education and be able to work and make their own money so they are economically independent. Efforts aiming to empower Afghan women must focus on these two areas because empowered women are agents of change, peace and development in a country and Afghanistan will not be able to fight religious radicalism or poverty without empowering the women.