The battle against gender inequality has not been an easy one, to say the least. The gender report 2013 shows that women were more likely to be disadvantage compared to their male counterparts in areas such as the job market and education. The rankings prove that no country in the world has been able to close the gap between men and women, which seems very worrying. However many countries have done exceedingly well in narrowing the gender gap, for example Scandinavian countries. According to the Gender Gap Report Iceland has won for the third consecutive year running.
Although there are improvements made by the United Nations and nation states it is still a slow progress within many impoverished women in parts of the world, such as Afghanistan. Considered the worst place for a woman to live. (Guardian, 2011). It has become a country that has captured the attention of the world, known for its conflict and gender apartheid, (Andrews 2013)
The heavy occupation of the Taliban with their own version of the Sharia law meant that Afghan women and young girls were prohibited from doing many things, education being one of many. Many young girls had to attend underground schools and risked execution if caught.Only 12 percent of Afghan women are literate and yet in many parts of the country families refuse their older daughters out of the house, therefore making education a nearly unattainable goal, (National Geographic2014) . According to (Amnesty International 2014) women were not able to work or leave the house without a male relative or faced severe punishment whereas men were free to do as they pleased. The healthcare in Afghanistan was also inaccessible for women due to societal gender relations.
Feminist believe that the reason why Afghan women and women all over the world are faced by hardships and calamities is because we live in a patriarchal society which props up female subordination. Therefore it is inevitable that women are exploited and marginalised by men because they happen to be the more dominant sex. According to (Walby 1990) there are two types of patriarchy; private and public. Private patriarchy takes place where the man oppresses the woman inside the home and is restricted from participation whereas public, includes women in areas such as education and work however it segregates them by positioning them in certain fields without limited chance of moving up the stratification system. Overall the two types of patriarchy have the and but have the exact same outcome, the marginalisation of women.
Many foreign and local NGOS have been working together to stop a gender apartheid from occurring however the Afghan government seem very oblivious. Due to many fundamentalist within the Parliament progression has been slow. Despite laws being implemented such as every citizens of Afghanistan, whether man or woman, have equal rights and duties before the law”, (Tushnet, Fleiner and Saunders 2013), exploitation and marginalisation still remains in many parts of the country. Introducing new laws that protect women is a step in the right direction however it doesn’t mean very much if the law isn’t being enforced. To say the least it is going to be very difficult to change the human behaviour and values that have been an ongoing trend since the 1990s.
With a world that is continuously changing and reshaping itself, will the rights of Afghan women be achieved, once and for all?
By Hufan Jama
Amnesty International (2014) Women in Afghanistan: the back story, Available at: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/womens-rights-afghanistan-history#.VIyX1HtHrIU (Accessed: 9th December 2014).
Andrews, P. (2013) From Cape Town to Kabul: Rethinking Strategies for Pursuing Women’s Human Rights, 1st edn., England: Ashgate Publishing Limited .
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Bowcott, O. (2011) Afghanistan worst place in the world for women, but India in top five , Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/15/worst-place-women-afghanistan-india (Accessed: 9th December 2014).
Bryde, B-O. and Stein, M.A (2013) ‘General provisions dealing with equality ‘, in Tushnet, M., Fleiner, T. and Saunders, C. (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law. 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN: Routledge, pp. 292.
Conant, E. (2014) Afghan Woman Who Once Went to School in Disguise Opens Boarding School for Girls, Available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140619-shabana-afghanistan-boarding-school-girls/ (Accessed: 9th December 2014).
Walby, S. (1990) Theorizing Patriarchy, 1st edn., UK: Blackwell Publishers Inc.
World Economic Forum (2014 ) The Global Gender Gap Index 2014, Available at: http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2014/rankings/ (Accessed: 9th December 2014).