By Ms. Khaleda Khorsand CSHRN adviser in Herat city
Translation of an article by Ramin Ahmadi
In the past few years, there has some work been done regarding the role of civil society in supporting human rights in Afghanistan. Many journalists and experts inside and outside of Afghanistan wrote articles and organized interviews and debates in an attempt to raise the awareness of Afghan people concerning human rights values. Equally, some activities were organized by social organizations to disseminate information concerning human rights values. But in the shattered, poor and very traditional Afghanistan, a lot of explanations and arguments are needed so that the modern concepts of human rights are understood. The recent history of Afghanistan has witnessed a lot of controversy between the western and the Afghan culture and civilization. Some times these controversies resulted in a fighting against the western values and sometimes in both of these civilizations some kind of extremism rose which changed an initially constructive dialogue into a violent encounter.
Having said this, there exist many challenges in the Afghan behavior concerning the role of women in the society.
CSHRN has constantly organized dialogues amongst civil society organizations and other active organizations interested in the issues That is why a dialogue about the role of women in the society was organized by the CSHRN coordination centre in the western zone of Afghanistan, in Herat city. During this dialogue, the manual on the activation of the role of women in Afghanistan , which was developed by CSHRN, was used as an informative source for this debate. The debate manual was discussed amongst the participants of the debate.
Some of the important issues that came out during this debate were the following ones:
• Why are women in Afghanistan considered second class citizens who badly suffer from a lack of fundamental rights.
• The interpretation of the role of women in societies. This interpretation is very much related to the wrong interpretation of religion concerning the role of women in Afghanistan.
• The process of the transition of a traditional to a modern society needs the active role of women.
These three elements were the main topics of the discussion among the participants of the dialogue.
In the western part of Afghanistan, in particular in the city of Herat, the dialogue on the role of women is very limited among intellectuals. Therefore, this dialogue organized by CSHRN with a wide range of participants played a very useful role in the understanding of the role of women in Herat city.
It is also worth to mention that a number of important issues around the role of women were discussed during this debate. These issues included for example the interpretation of the ideology of political Islam on the role of women, the misinterpretation of Quran verses about the role of women, and the lack of information about civil rights in Afghanistan. At the end of the dialogue all the participants agreed to continue such useful dialogues amongst civil society organizations. All participants appreciated the role of CSHRN in Herat and asked for more similar programs.