A group of male Afghan women’s rights activists previously marched in Kabul dressed from head-to-toe in blue burqa in order to campaign for women’s rights. The group of 20 men walked through the capital Kabul to draw attention to women’s rights in Afghanistan ahead of international women’s day. The burqa covers the entire body with a mesh window to see through. The men were carrying signs saying “equality” and “don’t tell women what to wear, you should cover your eyes.” During the Taliban rule, they women were forced to wear burqa in public which still remains common in many parts of Afghanistan. If you think about Afghan women now, you might recall pictures of women wearing burqa or some of the most famous pictures like National Geographic photograph “the Afghan girl.”
It hasn’t been always this way. Before the 1979 invasion, many women were free to wear anything or go wherever they wanted. Women’s rights were progressing in Afghanistan during the 20th Century. Afghan women were first allowed to vote in 1919, a year after women in UK and USA were eligible for voting rights. In the 1950, the government abolished the gender separation; in the 1960s the government established a constitution which brought equality in several areas of life including participation of women in politics. When the Taliban rule started in the 1990s; women were denied their rights. Girls were not allowed to go to school, women were banned from going to work and banned from leaving their house without a male companion. They were forced to wear the burqas, they were not allowed to get involved in politics. If women disobeyed any of these laws they were punished harshly.
In September, 2001, the US placed huge pressure on the Taliban to turn over Osama Bin Laden in response to the 11 September, 2001. On 7th of October after the Taliban refused to give up on Osama Bin Laden, the US started bombing the Taliban. After the Taliban were removed from power in the last weeks of 2001, many schools were built for girls and women so that they could be able to get back to their work again. A lot of efforts were made towards the progress of equality in the country. The Taliban still has control over some parts of the country. Violence and discrimination against women and girls continues. Efforts are still being made to stop the violence against women in Afghanistan. Afghan women have made many gains in education in the last decade. They are now part of the police and army. However, they still face problems : domestic violence reports have increased; they are not included in the peace process with the Taliban. Street harassment is one of the main problems that Afghan women are facing. Kubra, 24, an Afghan performance artist wore an armor suit with large breasts and buttocks and walked on the streets of Kabul to protest against the street harassment. In Afghanistan, those women who wear burqas still face verbal abuse and harassment on the streets.
Every year the international women’s day is celebrated on 8th of March around the world to empower and inspire women and to celebrate their achievements. In Afghanistan, women’s day is celebrated to increase awareness on gender equality, issues that the Afghan women are facing.