Just as American women marched for women's suffrage in the 1910s, the women of Afghanistan continue to fight for their equal rights in society today. But unlike American women, who won their right to vote in 1920, Afghan women are still struggling to have an equal position in their society. During this past decade, Afghan women have progressed in gaining their rightful place in society. From taking back their right to pursue education to becoming the first women of Afghanistan to own a driver's license (watch NATO video) , the world can expect monumental changes to come for these women in the years ahead.
Below are some ways that women have transformed women's role in society within these past few years:
Afghan Women in the Olympics
She may have finished last place in the preliminary 100-meter run, but Tahmina Kohistani was the only woman representing Afghanistan in this year's Olympics, the second woman to compete in running at the Olympics in Afghanistan's history.
She was tearful and rejoiced for this opportunity. She had this to say to the reporters:“There are a lot of bad comments about me in my country and there’s lots of people not ready to support me. But I think I will make the nation of Afghanistan proud of me and they are going to never forget me. I just opened a new window, a new door, for the next generation of my country. I can say that they will follow me all the time."
"I think there is a lot of girls who are praying for me," she continued. "When I go back home, I’m going to tell all the girls to come and follow me. We can make a very strong network and we shall face all challenge in our way.
What I face, I face all the challenges, cross all the problems, and right now I am here." [Source]
Afghan Women's Education
In my previous articles for Film Annex, I highlighted the issues facing women and girls' education, including attacks on schools by Taliban militants. But the women of Afghanistan aren't backing down without a fight. They have not only greatly increased the number of educated women in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban rule in 2001, but have also introduced newer education opportunities for women. Driving classes conducted by women in Afghan communities, as well as fruit and vegetable processing training, an initiative by USAID's Agriculture Development Team (ADT), will help educate illiterate women and further enhance the role of Afghan women in the society (Source). Film Annex's Afghan Development Project's initiative to build internet classrooms in Afghanistan will become an even bigger push for educating the women and girls of Afghanistan.
Afghan Women on the Radio
The creation of Afghanistan's radio station, Woman's Hour, on national radio in Afghanistan may have been a major part of a technological revolution that ultimately inspire women and girls to fight for the injustice against Afghan women. A variety of programs such as cooking, positive female role models in politics and business, segments discussing inequality at home, and listener stories were available to listeners throughout Afghanistan. Along with interviews and national music, this radio station was a great influence for the women of Afghanistan. When polled, "91% (of listeners) agreed that Afghan Woman's Hour helped them solve problems and 83% agreed that the programme inspired them" to make a change in their own situation (Source). The radio station lasted only five years, but thanks to the 20-30 woman journalists, it paved the way for new other women based radio stations that are still active today.
Last week, USAID’s Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment rebuilt Radio Sahar in Herat to allow them to continue their mission to have women be heard throughout Afghanistan.
Afghan Women in the Government
Several representatives of various Afghan women’s rights organizations have recently met with President Karzai in order to urge him to increase women’s participation in government institutions and push for more initiative to locate perpetrators of violence against women. They also hope to ensure that better security will be provided for all female officials (Source ).
One woman's will to speak up about the inequality of women in society is that is needed to get the ball rolling for any change to occur for women's rights in Afghanistan. As the effects of change slowly trickle down the societal ladder, more and more people will start to take notice. Think about it. One voice, one argument, one petition, or one protest. More and more people will want to stand up for change, until one day, change will happen.
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