Afghanistan is ranked 69th out of 86 countries in the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). In the 2013 Human Development Report’s Gender Inequality Index based on reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity, Afghanistan was ranked 147 out of 148 countries. According to nationwide research conducted in 2008, Global Rights Afghanistan concluded that 87.2 per cent of Afghan women and girls are faced with at least one form of sexual, physical, economical, psychological abuse in Afghanistan. Reported cases of violence against women have increased 100 per cent between 2008 and 2009, ranging from domestic abuse to honor killing to rape to self immolation and exchange of women to solve communal disputes. Up to 80 per cent of marriages are forced marriages on girls and 57 per cent of girls are forced into marriages without their consent.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women have increasingly demanded – and received – significant improvements in their access to public services and treatment. However, there are serious concerns regarding the sustainability of these achievements after the international military forces such as NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdraw and handover security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), comprised of two main forces, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP).
Afghan women are still the targets of institutional discrimination as well as SGBV. For example, in 2013, two consecutive Ministry of Women’s Affairs chiefs were assassinated. In August 2013, female parliamentarian Fariba Ahmadi Kakar was kidnapped by Taliban militants. A few days later, the vehicle convoy of female Senator Roh Gul Khairzad was ambushed, leading to the death of her 8-year-old daughter. In September 2013, Afghanistan’s top female police officer Lt Islam Bibi was shot as she left her home. These are not random acts of violence. Dr Sima Samar, head of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan, has noted that by targeting high-profile women, the Taliban seeks to “limit the active presence and activities of women in their society.”
While statistics can never tell the full and ‘real’ story of a country, these percentages clearly demonstrate the very dire situation that women in Afghanistan face on a nearly day-to-day basis. These statistics are also based during a time when ISAF was present throughout the country. This raises the question: what will happen come 2014? Ali Shahidy, an Afghanistan-born human rights advocate, believes that if 2014 brings more conflict, then the role of women will erode and reverse .
“I think we need to realize the connection between International Troops withdrawal from Afghanistan and Afghan women’s rights. The presence of international troops means ‘security’ or, at least, ‘better security’. And absence of them means ‘insecurity’. An insecure environment adversely affects women’s rights and augments their plight. For instance, insecurity affects their education, employment opportunities, women’s entrepreneurship, their presence and participation in political and social spheres.”
Women’s civil society groups in Afghanistan have highlighted this by interviewing women across Afghanistan about their security concerns. A 2012 position paper by the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) examines the impact of the security transition on the women and children of Afghanistan. The report states:
“the majority of women feel excluded from the consultations that have been shaping the planned steps and activities of the security handover. Furthermore, these women do not feel that the ANSF are sympathetic to the needs of women and children or to human rights in general. They also believe that the ANSF have not been sufficiently trained to respond to issues regarding the safety of women and children in a professional manner.”
Through our network’s many contacts with female leaders, women’s activists and women focused NGOs from all over the world, including Afghanistan; we have heard and collected even more horrific stories about women’s situation in Afghanistan than what we have described above.
It is within the nexus of protection and prevention of SGBV in Afghanistan, enabling local actors to carry out their duties and tasks, and working closely with the Afghan authorities that Genderforce will prove its truly unique capabilities.
 Excerpted from Afghanistan women fear reversals of basic human rights as 2014 gets closer by Amina Zia Massoud – WNN Inside Perspectives on Afghanistan http://womennewsnetwork.net/2013/09/19/afghanistan-women-fear-2014/