Women’s rights in Afghanistan


Women’s rights in Afghanistan have been a subject of international concern since the 1990s.[2] Through different temporary rulers such as the mujahideen and the Taliban in the 1990s, women had very little to no freedom, specifically in terms of civil liberties. 

UN figures report 60 per cent of all marriages as forced, with most of these brides younger than 16.

More than a half of all female prison inmates are serving sentences for “moral crimes: they are charged with adultery, although in most cases they are victims of rape or forced prostitution.

Self-immolation is unfortunately a common way to commit suicide in Afghanistan and many Afghan women are driven to this as a last resort to escape overwhelming psychological and physical violence.

On paper women actually have equal rights – a law to combat violence against women came into force in 2009. However, in practice, judges seldom apply the law. For Afghan women, life outside the family is almost unthinkable.

On average, there are 5.3 pregnancies per woman. 51 percent of births are supervised by midwives or doctors.

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world – an estimated 460 cases per 100,000 live births. The causes of this maternal mortality include young age, vitamin deficiency and poor medical care during pregnancy.

Only 15 percent of women are literate compared to 49 percent of men. Ever since the Taliban regime was removed in late 2001, women’s rights have gradually improved under the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan 


According to The Asia Foundation’s 2018 Survey of the Afghan People, women’s rights and participation in Afghanistan are improving, but very slowly. The broadest and longest-running nationwide poll of Afghan attitudes, the Survey has gathered the opinions of more than 112,000 men and women since 2004, providing a unique longitudinal portrait of evolving public perceptions of security, the economy, governance and government services, elections, the media, women’s issues, and migration. The 2018 findings are encouraging when it comes to women’s access to justice. More women than men (21.8% vs. 16.4%) reported bringing family disputes to court, the Huquq Department, or the local shura or jirga, progress that can be partly attributed to three agencies of the Afghan government—the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, and the police—which have established specialized units to provide support services to women in cases of violence and civil disputes. Media and public awareness campaigns led by civil society organizations and international donors are also making women more aware of their rights. In many ways, this progress is a major collective achievement of grassroots activists, CSOs, the Afghan government, and the international community since 2001.

Before the October 2018 parliamentary elections, women held 27.7 % of seats in the national parliament, 0.7 points higher than the 27% constitutional quota. There are real fears, however, that women’s hard-won gains in Afghanistan may be in jeopardy following news of the peace negotiations with the Taliban and the government’s offer of a generous peace package.

Local, national, and international activists and organizations must work as hard as ever for women’s rights and empowerment in Afghanistan. The Foundation’s 2018 Survey of the Afghan People provides valuable data that can be used by the Afghan government, the international community, researchers, and the media to support evidence-based policymaking and improve the public debate about women’s rights in Afghanistan.





We have leading attorneys like Zeshan S. Ghumman, he is a lawyer and a consultant. If you need any legal advice and legal drafting contact him.


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