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Afghanistan has become the standard-bearer for the treatment of women worldwide.from Nasrine Gross,

Contributor ,


I
n the year 2000, I met with 300 other Afghan women in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to draft the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women. Later we collected 300,000 signatures. I believe that to acknowledge women as complete actors in society will endgame the philosophy of the Taliban.


We must stress that the activity of women in society is an act of Taqwa: a good deed. We can also insist that women must be in the peace councils that meet with the Taliban. I keep asking: Why not?

Earlier this year I was a volunteer in the campaign for the election of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. He was a candidate with a platform, presenting his program and not creating a personality cult: a new and
Today, 85% of Afghan women are illiterate, and 80% of Afghan men.
democratic way for Afghanistan. My soul is seared as a women’s rights activist by how the Karzai team dealt with women voters in this last election. I was in charge of investigating fraud in eight provinces. In those provinces taken together, not even 100 women turned out to vote. Yet hundreds of thousands of women’s votes were recorded for Mr. Karzai.

Three hundred years ago life was very simple. Even the most powerful country in the world didn’t need its women. In the 21st century life is very complex and every society needs all its members. Today, 85% of Afghan women are illiterate, and 80% of Afghan men. It may take a couple of generations to educate all of them (based on the government's snail’s pace), but when modernity is achieved, change is possible. I know how to make people not be afraid of social change: show them how to do it themselves.
The supreme court of Kuwait ruled just this past week that female parliamentarians do not have to wear the Islamic garb. The ruling says “No state can dictate to its adult population what to wear.”

Nine months of the year I live in a village outside Kabul. On a rainy day not even a mule can cross our road. Change has to come from the family, the most important social structure, so I work with husbands and wives in literacy classes in the poorest neighborhoods of Kabul and Mazar. For a classroom we rent a room in the home of one of the couples. We conduct classes for an entire year. If a couple misses three classes, another couple takes their place. There’s always a waiting list. There’s one textbook for each husband and wife so they have to study together. It’s a little bit subversive, because women play a central role in helping men to understand and accept social change. And it creates closeness.

Change IS happening. The supreme court of Kuwait ruled just this past week that female parliamentarians do not have to wear the Islamic garb. The ruling says “No state can dictate to its adult population what to wear.” I encourage you to read the ruling. I think it will have an important impact in the Islamic world in the years to come.


Nasrine Gross





This article was first published on Peace X Peace, Voices from the Frontline.

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The Voice Lady, 2010-01-06 11:49:42
-- Nasrine, What a wonderful article. And, I agree with you. Women truly do have more influence in society than even they have given themselves credit for. (Just the fact that no other woman has commented on your article speaks volumes.!) I am delighted to hear that the Afghan women are finally going to be heard. Thank you,



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