Human Lives Human Rights: Women’s rights have been and are one of the most challenging issues in human rights issues at the global level, but women’s rights are often violated in societies that are still struggling in between tradition and modernity. To put it more clearly, although these countries have articles about women’s rights in their laws, but in practice, the situation is different.
Afghanistan is one of the countries that has always been the subject of debates and controversies in terms of human rights, especially women’s rights, and women’s rights in Afghanistan have witnessed quite ups and downs history.
Afghanistan has a very low rank in the field of women’s rights, and according to gender inequality indicators, Afghanistan has been one of several countries at the bottom of the list.
However, during the years 2010 to 2019, when the situation was little calm, good progress was made in terms of women’s rights, but with the beginning of whispers of the reactivation of the Taliban, which ultimately led to the fall of the elected government and the Taliban government seized power, the situation of women’s rights began to decline again.
In different eras, there were people who tried to restore women’s rights, but unfortunately, due to the prevailing conditions in the society, such activities did not have a significant impact.
For example, in the third decade of the 20th century and at the same time as the government of Amanullah Khan, changes were made in the laws of Afghanistan, which were considered very important at the time.
Amanullah Khan initiated the promotion of women’s freedom in the public sphere and tried to reduce the control of patriarchal families over women. Amanullah Khan emphasized the importance of women’s education and besides encouraging families to send their daughters to school, he had a plan to encourage women to adopt a more western style of dressing. In fact, he started a process like Atatürk in Turkey and Reza Pahlavi in Iran.
In 1921, he enacted a law that abolished forced marriage, child marriage, and bride trafficking, and placed restrictions on polygamy, a common practice in traditional Afghan society.
In continuation of the activities of Amanullah Khan, his wife Queen Soraya also did many things. Queen Soraya took quick measures to improve the lives of women and their position in the fields of family, marriage, education and professional life.
Queen Soraya founded Afghanistan’s first women’s magazine in 1927, called Ershad-i-Niswan, or “Guidance for Women.” She also established a women’s right organization called Anjuman-i Himayat-i-Niswan (Protection of Women). She was the only woman who appeared in the list of Afghan rulers and is known as one of the first and most powerful Afghan female activists.
However, some analysts believe that the high speed of Amanullah Khan in such social behaviors caused the formation of the initial nuclei of opposition to him, which is the main reason for the fall of his government in 1929.
After the Second World War, the successors of Amanullah Khan tried to act more cautiously until Queen Humaira was able to get permission for women’s education in 1950, and for the first time the people of Afghanistan saw women in universities. Muhammad Dawood Khan came to power in 1953, and one of his goals was to change the ultra-conservative and traditional mindset of treating women as second-class citizens. For this reason, he took a more relaxed approach than Amanullah Khan and started work by hiring women in Kabul Radio, and in 1957 he sent a team of several successful Afghan women to the Asian Women’s Conference in Cairo. In addition to government jobs, he also provided the employment to women in private sector until he created a new situation in the Afghan society in a very controversial action in 1959.
In the parade of 1959, the women members of the Afghan government appeared without hijab, which was widely opposed by the people and Sunni clerics.
Finally, in 1964, rights such as the right to vote, the right to social activities, and the right to run for office were defined in the Afghan constitution for women. Although these rights are recognized as basic rights, in the highly traditional and patriarchal society of Afghanistan, such rights are considered a significant victory for women.
In 1977, a movement was formed in Afghanistan, which is considered one of the turning points in the history of women’s rights in this country. Mrs. Mina Kishore Kamal, wife of Dr. Faiz Ahmed, the leader of the Afghanistan Liberation Organization, took a big step and founded the movement of the revolutionary women’s group of Afghanistan known as “Rawa”.
Because of this action, she was always threatened with death until she announced that she was going to Pakistan to save her life and moved the main office of the Revolutionary Women’s Jamiat of Afghanistan to the city of Quetta, Pakistan, and established and published the magazine “Payam Zan” until she was assassinated and killed by two members of the Afghan State Security Organization in 1987.
In the special issue of November 13, 2006, Time magazine introduced Mina Khair Kamal as one of the “60 Asian heroes” and wrote: Although Mina was only 30 years old when she was killed, she had already planted the seeds of the Afghan women’s liberation movement, whose foundation was the power of knowledge.
Among all these activities, the movement founded by Mina Kishor Kamal was the most influential, and after her murder, the Afghan Women’s Council was founded by Masoumeh Esmati Wardak, and when Noor Muhammad Taraki, who came to power in Afghanistan in the late 70s.
Rights such as choosing a spouse, choosing a job, and even choosing a place of residence were also defined for Afghan women, and the fruit of these efforts led to the establishment of the Afghan Women’s Council to have about 150,000 members from all over Afghanistan in the early 90s, and more than 7,000 women were studying in higher education institutions, and about 230,000 Afghan girls went to school and more than 22,000 female teachers and professors were teaching in Afghan schools and universities until the Taliban attack and the escalation of internal conflicts in this country changed the situation in general.
Taliban, who had no smell of Islam and humanity, started to destroy all the cultural and social infrastructure of Afghanistan and caused severe damages to this country, one of these damages was the removal of women from the social and scientific arena of Afghanistan, the fruits of which are still visible in Afghanistan.