I was born and raised in a village in Afghanistan where women are not equal to men. Women are considered less important and have fewer rights than men. I was told that men are to study and work while women are to become housewives and look after the children – and always obey their husbands.
I have originated from a third world country. In my country men are superior to women, and that’s why I belief there is so many acts of violence against women leading to a humanitarian crisis. Recently a woman was burnt and physically tortured to death right in the heart of Afghanistan, Kabul. This shows that there is a lack of human’s rights for women at the root of the system that has fundamentally changed the whole atmosphere of the society about women.
In my country, the superiority of men to women has been shaped into a cultural dilemma and has passed from one generation to another in the name of culture and tradition or that’s what the world views my country.
Lack of democracy in Afghanistan has forced women not to get involved in the society. This has widened the segregation between women and men. In my country women have been given no or very little authority to shape the society. In other words men have always been a shield in the way of their success and involvement in building a better and more humane society. Lack of human’s rights for women is a worldwide problem. But in war-torn Afghanistan it is very problematic and catastrophic to see a women burn to death or to be socially imprisoned because of somebody’s lack of understanding that men can own women.
With all social and humanitarian progress made in Afghanistan, child and forced marriage still is a massive problem in the country. Women are not allowed to make their own decision or to determine their own fates. Women have been isolated and socially imprisoned for decades – the afghan women have been forgotten by the world.
In the patriarchal Afghan society, the lack of opportunity for women is crystal clear. Very few women are allowed to work in the industries, very few women are self-employed and there is a limit to which a woman can go and any effort beyond that limit is hindered by the religious extremists.
I have always been irritated by politicians, socialists and even feminists referring to “human’s rights for women” as “women’s rights”. This is because when we campaign and fight for women’s rights, we are seeking a right for women which is different to men. Women are the real architects of society. Women’s significant contribution to the Afghan society cannot be ignored – women are half of the humanity.
Every morning of every day I wake up to see the beauty that plunge in heart of every human being, to see the equality and fairness amongst us all, and to see the Afghanistan every Afghan dreams for. But it turns to be the other way around. Gender segregation, lack of women’s rights, and inequality has destroyed the beauty I expect to see.
On the bright side, the number of school girls in Afghanistan has dramatically increased. The forgotten Afghan girls have had enough of isolation in the darkest part of the world, they are thirst of knowledge. More than anything they want to study, they want play their role in the society and shape their future on by their own hands. More women are involved in politics and more women are determined to frame the future of Afghanistan – the future is bright.
Let us all hand in hand put our differences away and let the world know that women are equal to men, so that nobody should ever feel a stranger in their own world.
Parwiz Karimi is an engineering student at University of Bradford, United Kingdom. He is also the founder of “Afghan Youth Association”, a writer and an artist.