The Current State of Afghanistani Women’s Rights

Loura Al Anezi is a Politics (BA) student. She is from Kuwait, and she reports the topics of poverty, mobility, security and conflict. Her hobbies include reading books and painting.

Afghanistan women’s rights are not guaranteed due to the recent Taliban governmental takeover. The biggest indicator of the downfall of women rights in Afghanistan was when the Ministry of Women’s Affairs building was transformed into the Ministry of Invitation, Guidance and Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Many women in news interviews have claimed that they have lost their pathway to independence since they don’t have access to an education, and job prospects seem bleak. The Taliban promised education for girls, but the government has, thus far only called boys to go back to school. These decisions clearly show how the world has failed to protect Afghanistani women, and their right to have their dreams and ambitions within their home country.

1 million children are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the course of this year and could die without treatment. An estimated 4.2 million children are out of school, including more than 2.2 million girls. Since January, the UN has documented over 2,000 grave violations of children’s rights. Approximately 435,000 children and women are internally displaced.

The lack of presence of women in workplaces within Afghanistan is concerning. Women made up around 21.1 percent of the labour workplace in 2019. Since the Taliban seized control, only women who work in the health sector have been called for work. There was a statement saying that women and men are not allowed to work in the same facilities as result this would not allow women to work in government, media, and banking.

There have also been security worries in terms of being associated with Western organizations and governments could pose dangerous risks, especially for women. Relating to this then, employees, especially women, working in foreign aid groups are at risk; they have attempted to contact the United Kingdom as they worked in projects funded by the government, but their calls for service are ignored. As one individual stated that the Taliban found out he worked in a UK funded program “I have been told … that Taliban and some ISIS members are chasing me and they have been [asking] about my living address. So I am hiding … because if they catch me, I will be killed,”.

Other careers, such as judges are also dangerous in Afghanistan, especially for women. Firstly, women judges are unsafe due to their association with the West’s program with the name of International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) that helped advance their careers. According to the IAWJ there are 270 women who serve as judges in Afghanistan. Over 100 of these judges are members of the Afghan Women Judges Association (AWJA) that is affiliated with the IAWJ. The second reason female judges feel unsafe is that all the prisoners are being released, so men who the female judges have jailed may seek revenge on them. Other than the safety risks, the Taliban has decided to have their own appointees and they will replace all judges of the former government.

Education for girls is still a risky matter at present as there are still speculations about how the government will educate both boys and girls. When the government reopened schools, only male students were asked to attend. The Taliban have also indicated that men will no longer teach girls or women, adding to an already severe staff shortage within schools. These decisions would affect women’s choices regarding career and education as resources are limited due to political decisions and the financial crisis.

Awareness is one of the key components to protect women’s rights in Afghanistan. Signing petitions and being updated about the women’s rights and access to social services such as education is extremely important. Another method of protecting women’s rights in Afghanistan is donating housing and goods such as clothing for refugees and it can be accessed here. There are various organizations such as Afghan Aid and the International Rescue Aid that collect donations to help the cause and help alleviate poverty.

There are a lot of negative predications regarding the future of Afghanistan as poverty and joblessness affect more than half of the population. Since the Taliban’s takeover it has lost its foreign reserves and its IMF funding. This would affect the contribution of social services such as education. Demographics such as women are going to be especially affected by it as they may not receive the education, they need due to difficulty of funding.

The Taliban stated that they will not prevent women from being educated or having jobs, but there have been severe setbacks regarding women’s access to education and career. Most importantly, we have been unable to advocate enough for their safety, and the organizations such as have failed to provide this safety when they need help the most. While foreign aid groups and governments have failed to protect Afghanistani women and their rights; many women struggle to piece their identity as they lost their access to education and career. 

Sources:

https://www.iawj.org/content.aspx?page_id=5&club_id=882224&item_id=67819

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FE.ZS?locations=AF

https://www.devex.com/news/i-will-be-killed-afghan-aid-workers-left-stranded-by-uk-government-101733

https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/statement-unicef-executive-director-henrietta-fore-children-afghanistan

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