Positive talking from NATO in Afghanistan – but will they deliver?

October 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

RAWA: Afghan woman with children

Call me cynical if you will. Comments from the Secretary General of NATO that the organisation will only support a political deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban if it respects the constitutional rights of women  are brilliant.

 And it’s true that there has been progress in terms of female education since the Taliban were ousted from government, and it’s very encouraging to see women represented in parliament. The trend is edging in a very positive direction.

But Anders Fogh Rasmussen was making a speech to a conference which was talking about women and security in Afghanistan. So, one could point out that he was hardly likely to say anything else – of course NATO is against inequality for women! It’s unlikely any head of NATO would fancy his reception being warm if he stood up and said NATO couldn’t care less about women in the country.

 But what is needed is action, political pressure, and more awareness. This site, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, is very interesting – a recent report here from Sky is a good example of women’s lives. And generally rather depressing reading, although I suspect the women behind this site are wonderfully inspiring and brave.

Recent figures suggest 2300 girls and women commit suicide in the country each year, and a third are suffering with depression. The healthcare advisor to the Afghan President, Faiz Mohammad Kakkar, blamed the civil wars, forced marriages, rape, domestic violence and widespread family poverty as the main reasons for the high rates of mental illness.

Talking the talk is easy. I will wait and hope that things continue to get better for women in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

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