The discussion over women’s empowerment in Afghanistan is usually linked to the past 12 years of Afghanistan’s new democratic practices and engagement. It is often forgotten that women have made some excellent contributions since 1919.
Today’s Afghan women are not the first ones engaged in various socio- economic, political and civil issues. Since 1919, there were efforts by the King’s own wife and sister for women’s education, political participation and empowerment. The constitutions at various regimes were changed and majority spoke of women and equality between women and men. The first health minister 1964 was a woman.
Speaking of the past, it is always pleasant to reflect on the present. In the past 12 years, most of the gains Afghan women have made are linked to their contribution, their enthusiasm and commitment for a change and better life for women of the country. Women’s participation in national gatherings to discuss national issues such as constitution making and peace process must be recognized without whom we would not have a gender balanced Constitution, 27% of women in the Senate and Parliament, 40% girls in education sector, 17% women in government agencies and an active women’s movement within civil society. Women’s work to address violence against women through introducing Elimination of Violence against Women Law is a first time effort in the history of Afghanistan to touch the sensitivity of traditionally accepted norm of domestic discussion to public sphere.
Past and present always give us hope to work for the future, continue efforts, learn from the past mistakes, get stronger and build confidence to deliver more and ask for more changes. It is only possible if the existing challenges of lack of access to justice and rule of law for women are taken seriously into consideration, where more women are recruited in the justice and security sector. It is also possible to tackle challenges of early