This yr we began worldwide Ladies’s Day every week earlier than March eight with a speech by the primary woman, Rula Ghani. “I’m pleased to be a witness of girls’s empowerment in several elements of their lives: social, political and financial,” she stated. “We’re joyful that daily and slowly, Afghan ladies are relying economically on themselves.”
Final Wednesday, a few of the Western embassies held events to rejoice Ladies’s Day, and on Thursday and once more on Saturday there have been occasions for Afghan ladies organized by everybody from the presidential palace to the Afghanistan journalists council. Our bureau acquired at the least 10 invites to totally different occasions and there have been many we weren’t invited to. Parliament held its personal Ladies’s Day occasion on Monday.
I’ve watched this phenomenon for the final decade and a half, and lots of Afghan ladies would agree with me that it has come to really feel fairly hole.
One of many invites I acquired was from a gaggle I had not often heard from, the Afghanistan journalists council, which was honoring 30 ladies — principally journalists, together with me. The council doesn’t have an internet site, only a not-very-lively Fb web page, nevertheless it holds occasional conferences.
The ceremony was a bit of disappointing; the presenter couldn’t pronounce the identify of my information group or the names of most of the ladies journalists. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the “honorees” didn’t hassle to attend. The organizers gave us purple flowers and head scarves, one thing that few ladies in Afghanistan want extra of.
Nooria Ashraf, in command of ladies’s points for the council, complained about how onerous it was to boost cash to purchase the top scarves, and the way involved she was about individuals on native tv who she stated typically gown “inappropriately.”
The Afghan Journalists Security Committee, which does essential work advocating for the safety of Afghan reporters, additionally needed to honor me — and ninety nine different ladies journalists. I didn’t know there have been so many. I’m unsure all of them even have work. They gave us purple flowers as nicely, together with notebooks as an alternative of scarves.
Few individuals in Afghanistan care to find out about the actual which means and historical past of Ladies’s Day, which is a day to acknowledge the lengthy historical past of girls’s wrestle for emancipation. Many right here assume it’s a day like Mom’s Day and that they need to give presents to their moms, wives and even their feminine colleagues — particularly head scarves.
On March eight, plenty of social media customers in Afghanistan publish felicitations on their accounts about ladies, primarily congratulating ladies for his or her gender.
For a lot of ladies in Afghanistan, Ladies’s Day is a reminder not a lot of how far they’ve come, however how a lot farther there’s to go.
The opposite day I used to be on the road reporting on a suicide bombing. Policemen and even a few of the male journalists on the scene stored asking what I used to be doing, as if I used to be engaged in work unbecoming of a lady. The nicer ones have been frightened I might be scarred by the expertise, and couldn’t deal with it. The ruder ones felt I used to be stepping out of my lane.
One official advised that it was harmful for me to be out that late at night time.
It isn’t straightforward being a lady journalist in Afghanistan; it isn’t straightforward being a lady right here, for that matter.
However for a lot of Afghan ladies, that isn’t what comes throughout in all these Ladies’s Day celebrations.
It typically seems that many establishments use Ladies’s Day to point out a liberal face, however only for a day. For the opposite 364 days of the yr, they appear to show a blind eye to the discrimination and harassment that ladies so typically face on this nation.
“On each worldwide ladies’s day, I maintain considering extra of how suppressed we’re inside this patriarchal society,” stated Sahar Fetrat, a filmmaker and ladies’s activist. “The symbolic celebrations, flowers, presents and a few phrases of empathy and sympathy are all the time given to ladies each eighth of March whereas on the identical day, sexism, inequality, harassment and violence towards ladies screams from all of the streets and corners of this nation,” she stated.
Ladies’s activists say that donors discover it straightforward to offer cash for celebrations, which nobody criticizes, whereas it’s a lot more durable to help packages that produce actual — and subsequently controversial — change.
“We don’t need to get flowers and head scarves,” stated Zubaida Akbar, a ladies’s rights activist. “As an alternative, respect us as people.”
Almost a billion dollars of overseas assist to Afghanistan, perhaps extra, has gone into packages meant to make ladies’s lives higher. However in line with a brand new report by the Afghanistan Unbiased Human Rights Fee, violence towards ladies has increased eight.6 % this yr.
Nonetheless, whereas many ladies scoff on the present of head scarves, no less than, they acknowledge, they don’t seem to be being given burqas.
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