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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora