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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Journalist Ruchi Kumar On The Political Atmosphere Of Afghanistan And Its Gender Dynamics

  • IWB Post
  •  February 13, 2019

A 17-year-long war, the malevolent Taliban waiting to plunder a struggling nation like a vulture watching over a vulnerable rabbit. The struggling nation shielded by the foreign aid from a country with an impulsive president who time and again threatens to pull back all the support. But what happens when foreign aid goes away? What fate does Afghanistan await as it lies suspended in mid-air amidst all this political inconsistency?

The 1970s were probably the last time Afghanistan saw the hope of socio-cultural change. Under Daoud’s administration, the country became hopeful of a revolution towards a better life, financial aid flowed to the country, the country profited from oil and gas revenues, political ideologies were being created at universities where men and women both studied together and women’s rights became a reality.

However, as soon as Daoud got overthrown and killed, things quickly went downhill. Soon enough followed a long period of political inconsistencies, wars, Taliban’s dark shadow, and constant unrest.

Civilians in Afghanistan have seen a state of unrest for decades now. More than anyone else, it is women in Afghanistan who have long endured the brunt of living on a metaphorical ticking bomb. Ever wondered what life’s like in Afghanistan or what it is like to be a woman in the country?

Indian writer, journalist, and humanist Ruchi Kumar has been long exploring these questions through her work on Afghanistan and the social and political dynamics of the region. In a recent Twitter chat with IWB, Ruchi shared with us the intricacies of the Afghan politics, the gender dynamics pertaining to it, and the experience of being a woman journalist in the country.

Here are the excerpts:

On the gender politics in Afghanistan

https://twitter.com/RuchiKumar/status/1095580789180432384

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog Afghan women are constantly fighting social, political, cultural hurdles, and also western stereotypes of what freedom might mean to them.

On the idea of freedom for Afghan women

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog Apart from the social hurdles, the increasing violence has greatly impacted their pursuit for rights. Their constantly at battle with political/social forces seeking/negotiating control over their freedoms.

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog Afghan women are not only affected by the conflict, but the sustained violence has prevented their growth in several spaces, including in education, health, workforce. Added to this, there has been few opportunities to allow social norms to evolve, within a patriarchal system

 

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog While it would be too simplistic to say Afghan women have made progress in the last 18 years after the fall of the Taliban, they are fighting very different battle today. #AfghanWomenWillNotGoBack is a very good example of what Afghan women are trying to preserve.

 

On initiatives led by Afghan women for women’s emancipation in the region

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog There are several initiatives, organically built, led by many inspiring Afghan women that one can support. Unfortunately, there is evidence that a lot of the aid that comes into the country is misused. Institutions and and organisations should chose their local partners wisely

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog Some of my favourite Afghan women’s organisation and inspiring Afghan women, are: @FreeWomenWriter @AWNKabul @NoorjahanAkbar @minasharif @HuriaSamira

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @FreeWomenWriter @AWNKabul @NoorjahanAkbar @minasharif @HuriaSamira So many more, but I’ll list a couple more: @Laila_Haidari @MotherTrustOrg @ShaharzadAkbar @RADAAKBAR

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @FreeWomenWriter @AWNKabul @NoorjahanAkbar @minasharif @HuriaSamira @Laila_Haidari @MotherTrustOrg @ShaharzadAkbar @RADAAKBAR Also follow, @FroghWazhma @FawziaKoofi77 @NehanNargis who are at the helm of #AfghanWomenWillNotGoBack demanding representation in the peace talks to safeguard rights.

On the gender dynamics of political journalism in Afghanistan

 

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog Men don’t have access to the same spaces and perspectives as women do in an Afghan society essentially divesting them of views of half of the population. Also, there are many issues that are best narrated by Afghan women themselves, owing to their depth and familiarity to stories

On the impact of the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog While the Afghan Army has been leading battles against the insurgencies for a while now, they still do need the support of the foreign forces. Many Afghans I spoke to hope that the proposed withdrawal is not immediate or unconditional.

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog The deal hasn’t yet been fleshed out. Currently they are “talks of talks” and the majority hope is that the eventual deal will be struck between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which will include all vulnerable in Afghanistan

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog As it currently stands, it needs women’s voice for it to be legitimate. While the Taliban have assured they would “allow” women to work and study, it is conditional and only if it “doesn’t violate Afghan values

On the challenges faced by her as a woman journalist in Afghanistan

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog It is sometimes harder for me to occupy spaces that are seen traditionally as male-dominant. I also face some amount of harassment for being a single woman, at times from my sources, making the whole effort of pursuing stories very frustrating.

Ruchi Kumar روچی کمار रूची कुमार on Twitter

@indianwomenblog What I face isn’t a fraction of what I see Afghans deal with! I love being around so many inspiring, history-making people, doing all these amazing things in the face of tragedy..

 

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