Women in the Eyes of Men: Tackling the Structural Roots of Women’s Problems

On the Occasion of 8th March, AHRDO Republishes Key Recommendations of its Recent Report on Women Rights.

Executive Summery and Recommendations

Despite the progress made on women’s rights in the last decade, the situation of women in Afghanistan remains dire. There is a need for significant change in the attitudes and behaviors of Afghan men towards women. Characterized by parochialism, suspicion, violence and control, Afghan men largely view women as subordinates and often treat them either with denigration or negligence. The entrenched attitudes and behaviors of Afghan men are central to understanding the slow pace of Afghan women’s development.

In order for women to continue their progress in social, economic, political and private spheres, attitudinal changes in Afghan men are essential to creating a favorable institutional and social environment for this to occur.

Afghan men dominate key institutions and social structures that not only influence, but also shape and configure, women’s life in public and private realms. Patriarchal family structures, a masculine religious establishment, unsafe public space, the male dominated market place and conservative culture and traditions considerably restrain women both privately and publicly. Women face complex structural forces that tacitly and expressly affect their lives and negatively impact their ability to change their situation.

Religious forces have a long historical record of suppressing women with strict and inflexible religious interpretation. Religious establishments in various forms – madrasas, mosques and other localized centers of learning and counseling – have structured and sustained a deeply conservative discourse on women that constrains them. What social functions women have, how they should live their life, and how they should appear in public and in private, are predominantly defined by the interpretations of these religious institutions, actors and practices. Read more