Over the past two decades, important strides have been made on women’s rights. There are now 3.3 million girls in education and women are politically, economically and socially engaged. Despite the ongoing conflict, Afghan women have become lawyers, doctors, judges, teachers, engineers, athletes, activists, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, business owners, police officers and members of the military. However, major obstacles and challenges remain.
Violence against women is rife, the participation of women at all levels of government remains limited and, according to UNICEF, 2.2 million Afghan girls still do not attend school. The struggle to ensure women’s rights in Afghanistan has been a long, tough battle. During the Taliban regime, unreasonable restrictions were imposed forbidding women from working; studying and accessing health care which was accompanied by a heavy clamp down on their freedoms of expression and movement. They were denied their key human rights.
Challenging these restrictions, Afghan women have constantly fought against the odds to assert their rights. These efforts have resulted in women today being at the helm of affairs in the country. It is these victories that are at the risk of being compromised during the peace talks. A peace process must put human rights at its heart. This process must preserve and strengthen Afghanistan’s human rights progress, especially women’s rights. Women cannot and should not be relegated as secondary and unimportant actors at this critical juncture of peace talks that the country is in. Sign the petition and show your solidarity to Afghan women.
You can join Amnesty International’s call on the Peace Ministry and the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) to: Recognize the centrality of Afghan women’s contribution in development, peace and prosperity of Afghanistan and ensure that these gains and contribution women have made are non- negotiable during the negotiations. Any peace deal must not only protect the gains already made but commit to further advancing the rights of Afghan women.