West on Afghan women
EVER since the Taliban takeover, West has been creating hue and cry on the issue of women’s rights in Afghanistan. However, they are negligent of their policies regarding women in their countries.
The western states are putting undue pressure on the Taliban to allow women right over their bodies in terms of hijab restrictions and appoint women in government.
But, historical facts suggest that the US itself has yet not given rights to women over their bodies in terms of the recent abortion law and also gave rights to women sit in the cabinet after a long pause of more than 100 years.
Hence, their demands from the Taliban are unjustifiable and based on hypocrisy. How can the first world states expect that a journey of over 100 years can be covered in the very first month in the Afghanistan cabinet? This is nothing but sheer hypocrisy.
Since, the American declaration of independence in July 1776, Frances Perkins became the 1st woman appointed to a presidential cabinet when she was sworn in as Secretary of Labour on March 4, 1933, during F. Roosevelt term of office. While in 2021, Vice President Kamala D. Harris became the first female Vice-President during President Joe Biden’s term of office.
She set history in American politics by being the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected as a Vice President.
If America being a developed state and superpower of the world, took a long while from 1776 to 1993 to elect/recruit women in its cabinet and secretariat then why the US and its allies are compelling Afghanistan to include women in their government on the very first day of their independence? This shows dual standards of the first world states and propaganda campaigns against the Taliban.
If we dig deeper into the US women right to vote it is associated with the women’s suffrage movement that was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States.
It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once.
But on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
On the other side, in French politics, French women have only been allowed to vote in 1944.
The number of French women in office remained low for 50 years. In 1945, women represented 5% of the National Assembly Deputies despite that they constituted 53% of electorates.
It took another 51 years to raise French women representation from 5-6%. Similarly, in France Muslim women still struggle with their basic rights to attire and way of life.
Germany and many other like-minded first world states are not different from their friends in the world community.
Based on these facts how justified are the first world demands from the Taliban to give an equal share to women in politics and government affairs. When in 2005, Angela Marker became the first woman Chancellor of Germany.
So far not a single female has served as head of the state in the first world states except for New Zealand.
The first nations should realise the fact that the Taliban got in power after a long struggle. They hold strong religious sentiments towards their women. Also, consider women as a part of their honour.
The 2021 Taliban seems to be much tolerant towards women’s education and seeking empowerment.
Like all other nations, they hold social norms and values towards their way of life. Their journey from an occupied to a sovereign Afghanistan indicates various stages of the Taliban grooming and getting adapted to the new trends and developments when it comes to women’s empowerment.
But, they are yet not ready to be dictated about how to treat their women, particularly about their attire. Because they consider themselves sufficient enough to protect the respect and status of their women.
It’s time for the West to accept the new ground reality and shed its hypocrisy against the Taliban by frequently propagating maltreatment of Afghan women at the hands of the Taliban on their media outlets.
They should never go against history and realise the fact that ideology cannot be enforced by force over weaker states.
They also need to recognise that imposed orders will never be sustained if they want long-lasting results.
If the US in particular and western states, in general, wants to do something amazing for the women folks then they need to win over the people and give some time for the Taliban to mature their status and governance mechanism. Looks like the West is still unhappy over the concept of Hijab by the Taliban.
They are forgetting that hijab is observed in many other Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia and so on. Taliban are not demanding something unusual.
By spreading this kind of propaganda against the Taliban the West is expressing its bias towards Afghanistan.
In other words, they have not accepted their defeat at the hands of the Taliban after 20 years. Taliban may not take 100 years in giving women their due share of representation in Parliament/government but still need some time.
Instead of wasting their energies in demeaning the Taliban over the issue of women rights, they need to work on reframing their strategies towards their women’s rights on their bodies. Work on equal wages and all other issues surrounding women in the first world states.
They should set examples to be followed by other third world states than playing blame game tactics all the time.
The western media propaganda campaign need to shift their propaganda war against the Taliban and broadcast news on an equal footing. Respect is the Taliban’s basic right and the proponents of human rights need to adhere to it.
The US should stop expecting other nations to compromise on their social and cultural values and adopt western ideologies that are never a part of their system.
Unfortunately, patience and respect for other nations are required that the West struggle to realise.
Therefore, shedding bias and never imposing western culture on other states is a need of the hour.
The first world states right to dictate other states about sexism is unjustified it will never work and bear fruit!
—The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Public Policy, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology.