IWF’s Lida Noory has a great article in today’s DC Examiner, detailing the struggle for women’s political participation in Afghanistan:
One of the real reasons why few Afghan women are being given positions of power in the government is the conservative cultural bias that pervades Afghan society, which makes empowering women taboo. An aide to President Karzai explains, an Afghan woman is not suitable to fill positions in the Supreme Court because ‘she is thinking as a sister or mother or wife, [although] we have very intelligent Afghan women, they are not strong enough.’ To the contrary, if the women in Afghanistan are anything like the Afghan women I know, then they are anything but weak. The women who survived the mercilessness of the Taliban regime and years of civil war are some of the most resilient women in the world.
Despite these setbacks, Afghan women are still in a position to promote democratic change and combat the religious extremism that threatens to reverse their progress. One area where women’s human rights are threatened is within the structure of the judiciary system. For instance, dominant conservative judges on the Supreme Court have passed discriminatory and disturbing rulings that affect Afghan women: They sought to ban a 2004 presidential candidate who questioned whether polygamy complies with Islam; they outlawed women from singing on television; they have called for an end to cable television; and most disturbingly, the Supreme Court ruled that young girls given as brides at the age of nine (despite laws setting marriageable age at 16) cannot get a divorce from abusive husbands.