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The Prospect of Post-2014 for Afghan Women

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The reports once again highlighted the dire situation for women in Afghanistan. Ahead of two major transition processes – the 2014 NATO withdrawal and the forthcoming presidential elections – in the country, there are increasing concerns on the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan. There are concerns that there may be a possibility of a possible reverse in women’s rights after withdrawal of foreign troops by end of 2014. The Afghan women have suffered for decades and now it is time to fight for the minimalist achievements of past decade.

The women have been deprived of their basic rights and freedoms as they have been treated as an inferior class in the society as well as the families. For instance, for a typical Afghan girl, particularly in rural areas, it has been less likely to have the permission of her family to go to school, university or workplace, virtually leading to her deprivation from opportunities critical for a better life. In more conservative areas, during decision-making about marriage, a girl used to have no say about her preference or endorsement while the male members of the family have the final authority in making decisions.

The decades of war and violence have played a major role in violation of women’s rights and limitation of their freedoms. In fact, the women have been direct victims of war and instability and the most affected segment of the society during the past decades of wars. They have suffered from being killed in the wars, murders, tortures and displacements. The militant groups still target the women activists as well as those who are going to school or working outside. The insurgents continue to target women activists and school girls to discourage them from their social activities and attending public schools. Despite extensive pro-women campaign during past twelve years, each month there are many cases of violence against them in the society and family levels. Time and again, there are reports of violence against women, such as honor killings, rapes and tortures.

Despite all progresses made during past twelve years, there are still concerns for probable setbacks in women’s rights, as the ominous 2014 deadline is getting closer, and the public anxiety is growing. Many wonder about what would happen after the withdrawal of foreign forces by 2014 and how it would affect the status of women and on the hard-gained achievements of the past decade. Despite the substantial gains in the rights and status of Afghan women, there are still potential dangers threatening the minimum hard-gained achievements and reversal of the achievements regarding the lives and conditions of the women.

Public awareness campaign for promoting women’s rights is the most major driver of change and the achievements made so far. But it has not been carried out with potent momentum which could all parts of the society. Public awareness gradually changes the conservative mood of the society and makes it ready for embracing the new way of life and accepting a new set of rights for the women. In order to carry out such public awareness, general education is the key and the Afghans should embrace it no any later – but now.

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