Women with disabilities have always sought government attention on a number of issues, including the provision of educational facilities. As the peace talks heats up, women with disabilities in Balkh are calling on the government to involve them in the process.
In an interview with the CSHRN, Parvaneh Sama Samadi, head of the Social Association of Women with Disabilities in Balkh, said that women with disabilities are the main victims of war, because it has maimed them. They now call on the government to include their representatives in the negotiating team.
CSHRN: How optimistic are you about the outcome of the peace talks?
If the talks are not behind closed doors, and the voices of women—especially women with disabilities—are heard, we can hold out hope for positive results.
This organization is concerned that women’s effort might go in vain. According to Ms. Samadi, women with disabilities are more worried than anyone else about their achievements to be compromised.
CSHRN: What is the main reason for women’s disability in Balkh?
Although the government has divided them into war and non-war inflected disabilities having different privileges, war is considered as one main cause. While disavowing this dichotomy, Ms. Samadi believes that non-war driven factor can also be the main driver for women’s disabilities in one way or another. If a pregnant woman, for example, does not have access to required facilities such as health care, clinic and hospitals in a conflict situation, child’s disability with psychiatric condition will be the dire consequence.
CSHRN: What privileges do disabled people have?
Samadi: People with war disabilities receive a salary of sixty thousand Afghanis a year from the government, but people with non-war disabilities receive no benefits. She added that besides facing many other challenges, women with disabilities are always ignored and isolated and by their families and society as a whole. Moreover, lack of access to employment and education add to their already problems.
CSHRN: What are their problems in the education sector?
Samadi: One of the biggest problems is that most schools refuse to enroll people with disabilities, calling the admission of such students “troublesome.” This causes them to lose confidence and become discouraged from learning.
However, according to Ms. Samadi, some institutions work in this area by launching educational programs and educating people with disabilities to prepare for school. “Since they have always been isolated, they are afraid of the community. This program helps them regain their self-confidence.”
CSHRN: Despite the fact that educating women with disabilities is difficult, what are their achievements?
Samadi: Women with disabilities are members of several sports teams, including the women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team in which they have made noticeable achievements at national and regional levels. She urged the government must provide the conducive environment where women with disabilities can market their technical and professional abilities. According to her, a request has already been sent to the State Ministry for Peace to ensure the presence of women with disabilities in the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks; however, they have not received the answer yet.