• Women's Rights -Women Wronged

Women's Rights -Women Wronged

13 March 2013

Afghan women need  continued international support  to prevent their hard-won rights being traded for peace, according to BAAG Director Jawed Nader.

He and other Afghan activists were speaking at a special session on Afghanistan at the Women’s Rights- Women Wronged conference in  Bristol  at the weekend.  The session reflected on the progress made in women’s rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 - and the threats facing Afghan women now.

Nader outlined some of the huge  gains made by Afghan women over the past decade in education, health care, legal rights and political participation.  However, he also highlighted the potential threats posed by the current “transition” period in Afghanistan. Over the next eighteen months, this will see international forces withdraw from the country and the Afghan government take over responsibility for security and basic services. 

“If the transition is not managed properly” he said, “women are more likely to be excluded from government, education and the economy again”.

He said women particularly feared that if the Taliban were brought back into government as part of a peace process, their rights could be traded away for peace.

Only 9 of the 68 member High Peace Council entrusted with the task of negotiating with the Taliban are female.

Afghan women’s rights activist Quhramaana Kakar said Afghan women were concerned that the world would pay less attention to them after international troops withdrew.  “The presence of international troops in Afghanistan kept Afghan women under the spotlight”  she said.

Both speakers also feared the impact of a cut in aid budgets on Afghan females, who still suffer from high levels of domestic violence, including forced marriage, and limited access to education and health services.

They stressed that the women of Afghanistan were determined  to fight for their rights.  But they said they needed help  - not just to combat the potential threat of the Taliban, but also to challenge growing traditionalist forces who would seek to erode women’s position in society.

According to Nader, “It is essential that the international community continue to help Afghan women.  It should put diplomatic pressure on the Afghan government to ensure that these precious gains are not traded away in the name of peace. ”

For a personal view on what Afghan women are fighting for, see Tamana Heela’s blog in the “Views and Voices” section of our website