Afghan Women Left in the Dust

Article excerpt

IN 2005 Afghanistan's new parliament was formed with a 25 percent quota for women MPs exceeded. It would appear that progress has steadily been made, and that women occupy central roles in the country's political life.

However, a report by the London-based organization Womankind details how the progress made on paper in the last six years has not translated into reality for women of the war-torn country.

The last two years have witnessed the murders of women aid workers, attacks on women elections workers, the continuation of severe forms of domestic abuse, trafficking and prostitution of women, a rise in cases of self-immolation, high rates of child marriage, the kidnapping of young women, and minimal protection from rape and assault. The education sector currently faces an unrelenting assault, by the Taliban and affiliated groups.

Womankind reports, in Taking Stock: Afghan Women and Girls Five Years On, that "programming has been marred by shortterm perspectives, inappropriate projects for the Afghan context, and 'workshop fever' oriented at Afghan women leaders. The Ministry of Women's Affairs operates at low capacity and with minimal influence on government policy. Most critically, the practical needs of women and girls remain unmet as basic services-such as access to clean water, education, health care and livelihoods-remain at bay." Afghan women report deep frustration at their lack of input in setting the aid and reconstruction agenda in their country.

No peace process stands a chance at success without the full participation of women. The report calls for legal clinics for women, shelters to escape violence and intervention on human trafficking, including job creation and increased security. …