Socialist Worker

Afghanistan: US hasn’t liberated us, say women

by Guy Smallman in Afghanistan
Issue No. 2218

Afghan women sew in a workshop in Afghanistan (Pic: Smallman )

Afghan women sew in a workshop in Afghanistan (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Kabul district of Khoshal Khan Mina has a dark history. In 1992 the worst massacre of Afghanistan’s bloody civil war took place here.

“Most of the women here are widows and the children are orphans. This is the reason we selected this area for this project. It is not a secure area, but the need here is great,” says Latifa Ahmady of the Organisation for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities (OPAWC).

These women are not seeing the liberation they were once promised by the US occupiers.

“We were happy when they came here,” Latifa tells me. “We were hoping that the situation would be better for us.

“We had hoped for equal rights, for security and for democracy to express our ideas.

“But after nearly ten years there has been little change. Look at the poverty, the children begging on the streets instead of being in school. It feels like nothing has been done.”

Like many people in Afghanistan, Latifa complains bitterly about corruption.

“During the last nine years millions and millions of dollars have been gifted to Afghanistan by other countries for development, for women, for education,” she says.

“Unfortunately most of this money goes into the pockets of the same criminals who were the cause of the wars, the massacres and the destruction of Kabul.

“These people hold the highest posts in the government. There is no money left for ordinary men and women.”

OPAWC was established in Pakistan in 1997 by a group of women who were determined to do something to empower women in Afghanistan.

The organisation started by teaching literacy, handicrafts and farming methods. By 2011 it aims to have its own production centre, run by women, producing goods and handicrafts—as there are currently still no factories that employ women in Kabul.

But the US occupation does nothing to keep people safe and also continues indiscriminate bombing. The deteriorating security situation was recently brought into sharp focus by an attack on a girls’ school—the first inside Kabul.

“After nine years most provinces are under Taliban control—and it is the innocent civilians who are killed by the American airstrikes on the villages. Day by day the security is getting worse,” says Latifa.

“Every time I leave my house in Kabul and say goodbye to my family, I am not sure if I will come home safe again.”

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Tue 7 Sep 2010, 17:52 BST
Issue No. 2218
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