Plight of Afghan women foremost for human rights groups
Basic human rights denied women for nation in flux
Human rights groups say that Afghan women are being left out of the
conversation as world leaders come together to discuss that nation's
future. Afghan activist's fear that gains made in women's rights since
the fall of the Taliban will be erased after foreign troops leave the
Women in Afghanistan have won numerous rights and freedoms since the Taliban-led government was ousted in 2001. Women were not allowed to work, receive an education or leave their homes unless they were escorted by a man under repressive Taliban rule.
"The whole country could fall apart; civil war could ensue. Everything that we have gained in 10 years can be undone if [the] U.S. and NATO leave too fast or too abruptly," she said.
Women here have won numerous rights and freedoms since the Taliban-led government was ousted in 2001. Women were not allowed to work, receive an education or leave their homes unless they were escorted by a man under repressive Taliban rule.
Much has changed since then. "After they removed [the] Taliban from power, with the support of the international community and NATO, women started to work," Afifa Azim, co-founder of the Afghan Women's Network, an umbrella group of nearly 100 non-governmental organizations says. "Girls returned to school, women worked at public spaces and in the government bodies," she says.
Many worry that this progress will be quickly erased once foreign troops leave. Activists say women are being excluded as NATO leaders meet to discuss the security transition and the future of Afghanistan.
"Women comprise 50 percent of [the] population, and they have not been consulted in any of this, not the transition, not reconstruction, not the negotiations. They haven't been consulted at all," Activist Manizha Naderi says.
On the sidelines of the NATO summit in Chicago, the human rights monitoring group Amnesty International issued an open letter, urging U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to keep their promise to safeguard women's rights and freedoms.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, who both signed the declaration, offers steps to protect Afghan women's rights.
"Afghan women [should be] participating in both the national and the local level in the peace process - in the planning, in the negotiations and the execution," Frank Jannuzi, Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International's Washington office says.
"We would like to see a trust fund established to ensure that Afghan women and also civil society will be supported in the years ahead," he says.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says that "We have to figure out why, and to persuade everybody that having women's rights and women being on various groups is the best way to ensure a better life for everybody, not just for women, but for everybody."
With three million girls in school and roughly a third of parliamentary seats held by women in Afghanistan, Amnesty International and other groups want to see women make up 30 percent of the negotiating teams involved in peace talks to end the Afghan war.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Afghanistan, women's rights, NATO, Taliban, nation's future
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