By AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Women are at the front line in protecting women’s human rights in Afghanistan. They are teachers, doctors, journalists, activists and politicians. Many have been killed or threatened because of their work to protect women’s rights, while some have fled the country. They face intimidation and attacks; some are threatened by their families for daring to speak out. TheTaliban see their work as defying culture, religion and accepted role of women in society.
As Australian troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2013 the question must be asked, what will happen to the women? Amnesty International spoke to four brave and committed women – some who have paid a high price for their bravery – about the risks they face in championing the rights of women and girls. Here is the final instalment of their stories. (See the rest here, here and here.) For security reasons, names* have been changed.
Aziza*, a women human rights activist from Herat city, describes to Amnesty International her work in universities against extremism and her hopes and fears for the future, as the Afghan government pursues peace with the Taliban.
Working is not easy for women in a traditional, male-dominated society like Herat. The atmosphere for women in the workplace, particularly in government offices, is very difficult. For example, if a woman has a senior position, the male staff will not accept her as their boss and will constantly challenge her authority; so that, instead of focusing on their work, women have to struggle to assert their authority.
In Herat there are also severe extremist challenges. There are extremists who are obstructing the work of civil society, but so far we have been successful in challenging them. We have worked tirelessly to eradicate extremism and promote civil society and human rights networks. Last year we were able to create a coordination body among civil society networks and human rights organisations, which resulted in the establishment of more media outlets. These outlets have played a very important role in promoting human rights and strengthening the role of civil society.