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Statement on International Working Women's Day

March 8, 2022 - This is a statement released by YAWM on International Working Women's Day

On the occasion of International Working Women’s Day, the Young Afghan Women Movement stands by the cause of reiterating the rights and freedom of Afghan women within and outside of Afghanistan. The country of Afghanistan has been the epicentre of human rights abuses, inflicted on women and minorities by different perpetrators, the recent one being the Taliban. Following the takeover of the country by the violent extremist group on August 15, 2021, women have been constantly subjected to restrictions on their movement, socioeconomic freedom, and access to education.


The history of women’s rights can be traced back to 1923 and 1965 when Amanullah and the Peoples’ Democratic Party of Afghanistan introduced major reforms to introduce social change through the empowerment of women in the region. Although there was a strong aversion to such reforms in the rural areas of Afghanistan, there was a simultaneous call for women’s rights activism in cities such as Kabul. Women in rural areas of the region were at the behest of tribal policies that favoured influential men in power and gave them authority to dictate cultural norms. In contrast, women residing in cities witnessed a growing change in attitude and the need to participate more actively in the country’s political and social infrastructure. This is still the case. This complex nature of sociopolitical thought is easy to understand through the lens of division. However, what is needed is a re-interpretation of the significant role that women and minorities play in Afghanistan.


Today, we see the nation of Afghanistan is struggling to form a coherent sense of nationalistic identity, with the emergence of civil wars, rival faction groups, and international passivity of the scenario. We are extremely cognizant of the manner in which such turbulence is a danger to women and minorities who, due to lack of alternative avenues and resources, are forced to live in dangerous conditions. According to Human Rights Watch, nearly all the women financially empowered have lost their jobs following the takeover, and fear for their safety and security. International aid organisations such as UNICEF are experiencing delays in providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups, pushing the Afghan economy deeper into debt and crisis. Girls have been coerced into adopting an orthodox standard of dress, and have even been restricted from attending school.


On this Women’s day, we believe the time to act is now, and with constant endurance. The people of Afghanistan have faced countless persecution over a period of decades, and have survived with resilience and internal coalitions. We strongly condemn the gender-discriminatory and violent practices of the Taliban and urge the international community to join hands with local and foreign actors in building access of women towards employment, education, and politics to reform the country and hold the current government accountable for their undemocratic practices.


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