Women’s rights need to be revisited

By Simin Wahdat

Contributing Writer

When I went to Afghanistan for summer break after a year of college in the U.S. and London, I unfortunately noticed significantly high levels of tension among women in Kabul. It was the time of peace negotiations with the Taliban and the empowering of local militia by the Afghan government and international community.

These two issues have badly affected women’s hope in Kabul. Women in other parts of Afghanistan under current president Hamed Karzai’s regime are not in any better situation than they were during the Taliban’s regime. The reconciliation with the Taliban raises the question: does the international community really care about peace and stability or is this a strategy for leaving an unresolved conflict in Afghanistan?

Even though discrimination against women was one of the reasons for the United States’ overthrow of the Taliban’s regime, women’s status and condition are still miserable in Afghanistan. The reason women are frightened to go through reconciliation with the Taliban and hesitant to accept the empowerment of local militia is that these two factions have historically violated women’s rights in Afghanistan. Women that I talked to in person have completely lost their hope in government and in an international community that has not taken women’s concerns seriously.

When it comes to Afghanistan’s security and stability, women’s issues and problems are not considered a national concern. Women and children are directly affected by the consequences of policies and strategies made for Afghanistan, but women are the most excluded group in the country when it comes to participation at higher level of decision and policy-making processes.

The problems women encounter in Afghanistan should not be underestimated. The risky struggles and achievements women have made during the last decade in Kabul should not be compromised for the sake of political pragmatism.

The government of Afghanistan and the international community should understand that women will not compromise for the sake of political games in Afghanistan. Women need to be listened to and their problems should be taken seriously. The exclusion of women from decision-making processes undermines their role in building a stable and peaceful society where everyone can equally benefit.

As an international student in the United States, I appeal to the international community to pay more attention to women’s rights and concerns in Afghanistan. A lasting peace and security never happens in any society unless the whole population equally takes part in decision-making processes. I, like other Afghan students who study abroad, need security and safety to encourage my return to Afghanistan. I wish to serve my country, and the protection of women’s rights is a necessary precondition.

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