Fareshta with her son at the tailoring class | Photo: Malin Hoelstad

Women

In recent years the situation has improved in many ways, but women still face considerable discrimination and violence.

Almost four million girls attend school and an increasing number of women, especially in urban areas, are working outside the home. Legislation is in place to protect women and their rights, and the Constitution guarantees women equality before the law, equal rights to education and the right to work. Women also participate to a greater extent in political and public life.

In spite of these improvements, there is still a social climate characterized by lack of control and excessive violence with a weak human rights situation, especially for women. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission reported an increase of 16 percent in reported cases of crimes against women and girls in 2014. The Commission believes that violence against women is one of the most serious violations of human rights in Afghanistan. The increase is probably due to several factors. The insecurity of the situation in the country may be a factor, but also improved understanding about human and women's rights may have led to an increasing tendency to report abuse. However women's opportunities to gain redress for abuses are very slight, and negative norms continue to prevent them from claiming their constitutional and human rights. Almost all reported crimes of violence against women (98 percent) are committed by spouses or other close relatives in the home - a place that many Afghan women are bound to for the greater part of their lives.

Another hopeful development is the government's approval of a national plan of action according to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This reaffirms Afghanistan's commitment to protect women and girls from all forms of violence, particularly in times of conflict.