Amnesty International has indicated, in an assessment of the rights record of President Hamid Karzai’s administration over the past 12 years in Afghanistan, that the modest gains in women’s rights are being degraded:
· Endemic violence persists;
· Discrimination is still a fact of life;
· The Elimination of Violence against Women Law (EVAW) is an unfulfilled promise;
· Women human rights defenders continue be at risk;
· Women continue to be detained and prosecuted for “moral crimes”; and
· Women’s participation in the peace and reconciliation processes is marginal at best.
While it is important to acknowledge the improvements in Afghanistan for women and girls since the fall of the Taliban, much of this is the result of the work of women’s rights activists. Enormous challenges remain for women’s human rights. The vast majority of girls still leave school when they are between 12 and 14 years old, often due to family pressure, and only around one in ten university students is female.
The Australian Government must urge the next President to reaffirm a commitment to further progress on human rights especially for women.