Post-war Reconstruction in Afghanistan

“Afghanistan had a ministry for women affairs. Taliban replace it with ‘vice and virtue’” – Hindustan Times

Whereas, the United Nation’s Bonn agreement which paved a way for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is a much-appreciated step. Afghan women need legal, social, and political protection; which can be achieved if there is a check and balance over the Taliban government when it comes to a gender-sensitive approach. This report aims at the post-conflict phase of Afghanistan, highlighting the issues of women in the Taliban government and the antipathy of the Taliban towards women’s inclusive policies. It sheds light on the conflict between women’s empowerment and Islamic Sharia. The study also addresses the challenges of a gender-sensitive approach in the post-conflict era of Afghanistan – and provides recommendations for more inclusive policies.

2.     Taliban’s antipathy towards women

The rise of the Taliban and Mujahidin in the late 1900s was a dark era for gender equality and women empowerment. When the Taliban came into power for the first time women were confined to homes. Taliban has always shown contempt towards the feminist approach. The enforcement of Islamic Sharia is the main reason why women are being oppressed in Afghanistan. as more than half of the population lives in rural areas which are patriarchal. The Purdah (veil) of women is considered mandatory and talking with strange men outside homes is not welcomed in Afghanistan. However, if one takes the case study of Pakistan which is a neighboring Islamic state of Afghanistan, one can see a more soft approach towards women than in Afghanistan. The answer lies in history. The Mujahidin and Taliban were the product of Madressahs, who were inculcated to believe that women should always be inside the four walls of the house. The working women corrupt the nation and should be banned from going out. This thinking can be widely seen in Afghan men. In addition to this, the feminist and gender equality approach is highly criticized by the Taliban who often view this as a Western agenda to corrupt their women. These thoughts are further aggravated by an anti-western nation. The anti-American sentiments add fuel to the fire to discern all the policies, and agendas which include women, and the reason that is given is that Islam does not allow it. This is highly a politicized statement, as the first wife of the Prophet (PBUH) was the most famous businesswoman of Mecca.

Despite foreign pressure, the Taliban has done little to protect women’s rights. In late 2021, the Taliban government banned female anchors from broadcasting programs, this year the government issued new guidance which forbade women to travel without a male family member over a distance of 45-kilo meters. Since the Taliban has taken over, women’s rights are threatened. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report suggests extrajudicial killing, disappearance, and abduction of Afghan women journalists. Afghan women are facing the worst humanitarian and economic crisis. The Taliban government has also threatened women NGOs and supportive forums; thus, they cannot operate freely. TURN PAGE >>