Equality for Afghan Women is Progress for All Afghans

Jalal Foundation extends a hand of solidarity to all women of the world in celebrating March 8 as the International Day of Women. Today, we celebrate the achievements of the past 13 years including the restoration of equal rights in the legal frameworks, adoption of protective measures against violence toward women, improvement of women’s access to education and health services, and the opening of opportunities for women’s participation in public life and politics. The seeds of gender equality had sprouted in the hardened soil of Afghanistan and many women began to take active part in national reconstruction efforts. Afghan women have been driving change, not only for themselves, but more for everybody.

Nevertheless, nearly three decades after the UN Decade for Women, so much more remains to be done to elevate the status of Afghan women. The decree on the elimination of violence against women did little in preventing women-directed violence and is now being questioned by legislators for its alleged anti-Islamic provisions. But, the state should play its important role through legal legislations. It should incriminate all forms of physical and sexual abuse of woman, from verbal harassment, through rape, to sex and child trafficking, in all its forms.

Likewise, the proposed Criminal Procedure Code provides that relatives of an accused may not testify against her/him, making it difficult for victims of domestic violence to access justice. Reported cases of violence against women increased by 28 percent and resurgence of Taliban-style cruelties toward women such as extra-judicial executions, beheadings, mutilations, honor killing and murder have been on the rise. The return of the Talibans, their cultural extremism and parochialism, which negatively bears on the set of family relationships, family’s social and worldly choices, and hampers development and proper social change.

Taliban, ISIS and their increasing influence in national decision making, the imminent withdrawal of international security forces, and all contribute to increasing anxiety about the future of Afghan women’s rights. Many Afghan women have perished and enemies of women’s rights are increasing. But many women, girls and men are also coming out to push the struggle forward.

Sisterhood and solidarity with women around the world remains a major source of strength and hope to us. We trust that the international community will continue to give attention and support to their sisters in Afghanistan. On this day, we also call for protection of women in other countries in situation of armed conflict. We ask that women in those countries be consulted in peace negotiations in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. We also call for continuing support to survivors of natural disasters in other countries and appeal to world leaders to cooperate in the global effort to reduce global warming and rehabilitate natural resources.

As the post-2015 process continues, we call upon women world leaders to champion women’s concerns in high level dialogues and ensure their inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda. Remember the widows, female heads of households, women with disability, girl children and female youth, HIV/AIDS survivors, women in armed conflict and other women who are most marginalized by life circumstances.

Jalal Foundations invites all Afghans to join the Human Chains for Human Rights that will be organized in all provinces to protest the increasing incidents of violence against Afghan women. Jalal Foundation is also launching the book ‘Hanging by a Thread’ with the support of the International Forum for Rights and Democracy to raise Afghan women’s concerns globally. This book will be launched also in the United States, Canada and England in May this year.

At last it is worth to mention that the belief in equality, in terms of human soul, spirit, dignity, and joint responsibility for the universe, is an essential concept in the man-woman relationship.