Women’s rights are not different from human rights. Women are equally entitled to the right to education, safety, right to live free from violence and discrimination on the basis of gender, combined with ethnicity, colour, and creed, the right to earn an equal wage, right to choose any profession, possess property and so on. Like USA, Russia, Australia, Pakistan, and India, half of the society of Afghanistan is made up of women. Men and women are two pillars of any society. Without equal participation of both, society cannot grow. Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan – the non-violence leader – once said that women and men are like wheels of a bicycle. “If one of the tires is punctured, it cannot go forward,” he had said. So, equality is important for both men and women in every sector of life whether it is social, economic, or political.
It is a modern age; men must learn how to respect women and how to support women. If education is good for men if refreshments and sports are good for men, why is it bad for women? If it is bad, then men should also avoid it. In the previous government under presidents Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai, girls used to go to schools, colleges and universities. Many boys and girls could go on scholarships to other countries of the world, including Pakistan. All girls used to choose the faculties of their own choice such as medicine, engineering, literature, journalism, and so on. Women used to work in different sectors like Education Ministry, Higher Education Ministry, Health Ministry, interior, defense, and Foreign Ministry. At present, girls can attend only primary school i.e. till grade six. Girls are not allowed to pursue secondary education since August 15, 2021, when the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan.
It is really surprising that girls are not permitted to attend secondary schools, but for universities, girls can go to attend their classes, but not with co-education. For three days, girls attend their classes, and for three separate days, men are the rulers. This decision took place with the new administration of the Taliban. At present under the Taliban government, women can only get their salary per month except for female doctors and female nurses or those female teachers for primary schools, and the rest women are not allowed to work with men in the offices such as banks or the offices of other ministries. For the last 20 years, Afghanistan has had freedom of speech, and people had gotten used to democracy so much, that it is very difficult for all to be under such a government.
The majority of the upper class and middle-class families are leaving Afghanistan as they prefer to live out of their homeland. Since the Taliban came, they dismantled the Ministry of Women and activated the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. This ministry has asked women to wear Hijab and Burqa, but there is a huge difference between Niqab and Hijab. The Taliban want that women must wear from top to toe the Burqa and Hijab. Recently, they asked all women to wear masks along with Hijab while anchoring in front of TV scenes; this decision was condemned in Afghanistan while lots of ‘religious’ people were happy with such decisions. For a long time, we see statements about females’ education and female empowerment coming from different people and politicians from around the world.
We see no voice and no word from Pakistan. We kindly request that Pakistani men and women raise their voices for the women of Afghanistan. We also hope from the Taliban that very soon they open schools and let women work, even if they make the Hijab mandatory. Without the Taliban, the majority of women of Afghanistan used to wear Hijab even though there was democracy for 20 years and they will still wear Hijab happily. However, if they keep banning them, women of Afghanistan will be very disappointed and despair with this decision in this 21st century.
In the end, I can say that majority of people just wait for the Taliban’s decision to let girls study like boys and they believe that the Taliban have changed and are better than the first time they came. The majority of people still hope that the situation will get better and the Taliban will give all the basic rights that women need and want.