Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Despite other gains, Afghani women have no seats in the Cabinet

From the Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Since the ousting of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, women have made many gains in Afghan life in terms of equal rights and education. Despite this, the new Afghan cabinet is noticeably lacking in female representation. Unlike the prior government’s cabinet which included three women, there was only one woman nominated for a position, and she was not confirmed. This was for the position of women’s affairs minister, a position that will most likely have another woman nominated.

Sabrina Saqib, a twenty-six year old deputy in parliament, blames the previous female ministers for the administration’s lack of faith in women. She claims that the cabinet members “were unable to win the government’s trust. Therefore, men believe that women don’t have the necessary skills” to take part in the highest levels of Afghani government.

Afghani women blame the Karzai administration for submitting to pressure from radical Islamic groups and jihadists who wish to keep women from government positions. “Without a doubt, the new cabinet has been formed based on consultation with various jihadi factions,” a female parliamentarian said.

President Karazi did not deny that he consulted tribal and religious leaders, many of whom are very conservative regarding women’s role in society. Doing this, he explained, encouraged national unity. He also did not show any concern for the lack of female representation in his cabinet. “Now there is one woman in the cabinet, but there may be five in the future. It is not important to us,” Presidential spokesman Mohammad Karim Rahimi offered.

Many women find the influence of Islamic gender politics disturbing, because it is simply a new form of sexism replacing the old, more visible versions. With the President taking his cues from radicals, women fear that they will face the same kind of limited freedom of Taliban rule just under a new name.

To read this entire report, click here.


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