As the withdrawal of foreign troops nears, with a full withdrawal expected by the end of 2014, Afghanistan has re-emerged as a major issue in Australian politics.Those worried about Australian casualties…...
As the withdrawal of foreign troops nears, with a full withdrawal expected by the end of 2014, Afghanistan has re-emerged as a major issue in Australian politics.
Those worried about Australian casualties will breathe a sigh of relief at the return of soldiers. Afghanistan, however, is facing an uncertain future post-withdrawal. President Karzai’s term is due to end in 2014 and a peace settlement with the Taliban looms.
This week, Australia will be hosting a delegation of ten Members of Parliament and Civil Society Leaders from Afghanistan, who are here to raise an issue that has so far lacked serious discussion in relation to post-withdrawal Afghanistan: women’s rights.
As much as President Karzai’s term has been shaky and subject to criticism, there have been some tentative gains made in women’s rights. Compared to the time of the Taliban regime, women in Afghanistan can now study, hold office and choose to go without the burqa. Preserving and building on these gains will be key to Afghanistan’s success in the short- and long-term, and it is vital that women’s rights are at the forefront of discussions about national security and development.
The status of women has had a consistent presence in discussions of Afghanistan since the 2001 US invasion, which was partially justified by citing the Taliban’s abuse of girls and women. More recently, cases of murder and serious abuse of women have made international headlines and constituted some of the most spectacular reporting on Afghanistan.