News / Asia

UN: Women’s Rights at Risk in Afghan Peace Process

FILE - Young Afghan women attend teachers' graduation ceremony, Kabul, March 30, 2011.
FILE - Young Afghan women attend teachers' graduation ceremony, Kabul, March 30, 2011.
Selah Hennessy
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the rights of Afghan have progressed: Women are in school, the workplace and government.
 
But those advances could well be jeopardized in coming months, according to a new report by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
 
While CEDAW chief Nicole Ameline has received assurances of Afghan officials that women’s rights will be upheld after international troops depart in 18 months, the U.N.'s most recent gender-inequality index indicates the status of women in Afghanistan remains among the worst in the world.
 
Ameline fears the progress made on behalf of women’s rights could be lost in peace negotiations — especially with only nine women on the 70-member High Peace Council, the body set up to negotiate peace with the Taliban.
 
“The situation is absolutely fragile," she said, explaining that warning signs suggest important advances could be reversed. "We know that the next 18 months will be totally crucial for women’s human rights."
 
According to Monday’s report, Afghanistan also has a "high prevalence of violence against women," including domestic violence, rapes and stoning, and a growing number of attacks on girls' schools by Taliban groups, including instances in which girls have fallen ill because of suspected poisoning.
 
Elimination of violence act
 
Afghanistan’s 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women Law bans forced marriage and rape. Signed as a decree by President Hamid Karzai, the law has yet to be ratified by parliament; just two months ago, parliamentary debate on the legislation was stopped after 15 minutes because criticism was so strong.
 
While Afghanistan has also enacted electoral law that establishes quotas for women sitting in parliament, this month the proportion of provincial council seats reserved for women was lowered from 25 to 20 percent.
 
But even if some laws and proposed legislation are still being debated, Marvin Weinbaum, an Afghanistan expert at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, says dialogue about the crafting of new policies is critical.
 
“They are setting the right standard, what they think are the laws and practices that they would like people to conform to," he said. "At least it sets a goal that can be out there for future leaders to build on."
 
But he says it is also important to recognize that change is not going to take place overnight — regardless of the legal framework.
 
"This will remain a patriarchic society," he said. "There are things that they can have only marginal impact on, which are the deeply embedded values in the society."
 
CEDAW was established in 1982 and is composed of experts on women's issues from around the world.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More