By Alankrita Anand (PR Co-ordinator)



One thinks of Afghanistan- the country ‘ravaged’ by war, one thinks of its women, a lot deprived of much. While thinking of the majority, we forget that there is a Sima Samar, that there is a Khatol Mohammadzai, that there is a Shahr Bono; these are women who Google images does not feature.

A young student of radio journalism from Kabul University hails the current era in Afghanistan as a phase of hope for women. She talks about a growing concern to educate young girls and women, specially in the Northern provinces. However, one cannot say that this concern for education is geared towards preparing an entire generation of women to contribute to the economy; it is for the sake of education itself. The female literacy rate is poor even now despite the Karzai government’s policies to open schools and colleges in both urban and rural areas. We are yet to see what bearing the increased student enrolment ratio is to have on the literacy rate (particularly the female literacy rate).

Lets us turn our attention to the other side of the coin, the small minority of women who are pursuing their higher education from universities in Afghanistan and abroad. No Afghan law bars women from accessing the same opportunities with regard to education as their male counterparts. The law doesn’t but sadly enough, the society still does. During years of suppression under the Taliban Regime, women in Afghanistan were forced to live behind their veils- both literally and symbolically. Unfortunately, even over ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban, it still has some strongholds in the Southern provinces and exercises considerable influence in shaping the attitude of the society towards women.

With the toppling of the Taliban, the Afghan women did regain her right to work and travel and her right to express (this with certain limits) but she is yet to break free from the shackles of social obligations and be completely independent. She only seeks to challenge the denial of political rights (rights coming from statutory law) and not discriminatory laws that arise from a radical interpretation of the Shari’a. These are simply accepted as popular culture, no resistance is put up against them. Women are yet to have freedom in this regard.

One hopes for another leader like Zahir Shah, one hopes for another martyr like Meena Kamal, one hopes that organizations like the RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan) and publications like the Payam-e-zan (Women’s Message) will make their voices heard. Not only heard but also considered, one hopes that they will be liberated in every sense.

Today, Afghan women are employed as teachers, doctors, nurses, media-persons, lawyers and managers, they are also employed in the security forces of the country. Education is a sector almost wholly managed by them, healthcare was a sector that they could work in even under the Taliban, media is a field where they work as both anchors and producers and law is a field that more and more are opting for. Women are also major contributors to the agricultural sector. Referring to these success stories and the opposition to the Karzai government’s March 2012 ‘Code of Conduct’ (which was said to be in conformity with the Shari’a law), I ask the young lady from Afghanistan where she sees her country’s women 25 years down the line and she says that she would like to see them independent.

The response, despite having a sad undertone, is heartening. It spells hope.

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  1. Great job … Keep it up … ! Best wishes …

  2. that shows there is sun behind the clouds–well written

  3. Heartening and well written.

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