Women Integrity for Society Empowerment Organization (WISE-O)
Policy Advocacy for Women’s Access to Economic Empowerment
The major findings noted in this study are the results of interviews and studies obtained from perspective of 200 females on women’s role and involvement in government affairs.
Indeed, our country has experienced many years of war and destruction. Its reconstruction depends on each Afghan individual’s works, either male or female, or the style of their life. There should be serious attention to the structures of society and comfort of each individual’s life, especially vulnerable people (women) to develop country and improve social and economic situation. Majority of Afghans are living in a miserable economic and social situation. Most people suffering from this difficult situation are females. However, the civil and political rights of women are observed in Afghanistan Constitution, backward attitudes of some people in the society are obstacles to the rights of all women in the country.
The experience in the recent years shows that despite economic and social participation of women in public affairs, they are not given opportunity to involve in key decision-making in governmental departments and their economic independence is seen as unusual and inapplicable terms in most parts of the country.
A society can claim development and advancement that all its members, regardless of discriminatory norms, feel safe and comfortable in all affairs. This is possible when women can enjoy all rights as men can. Therefore, one of the fundamental rights of individuals (women) is their active participation in key decisions. Unfortunately, it can be found by looking at the current situation in the society that women are deprived of these rights.
In this study, 200 individuals were interviewed on women’s participation in activities and decisions in governmental departments, and factors resulting in lack of their presence in these institutions were reviewed.
First, the common and social status and level of education of respondents are reviewed
People need food, clothing and housing to continue their lives. Since all means of life are not ready for people, they have to work to provide their necessities. Thus, what is important is education level of respondents to each of item listed in the questionnaire. Although most of the respondents were eligible and free for entrepreneurship, more than eighty percent of women had not played any roles in any of such activities. Women working in these institutions are deprived of their rights and privileges by their employers and this makes women disappointed from working for governmental organizations.
According to the Labor and Civil Service Code, women, like men, have the right to perform duties in all economic and social spheres and can carry out their duties to meet their needs. According to the answers in the questionnaire, majority of respondents, depending on their level of education, had tried to start working in governmental departments, but unfortunately, due to many factors, they were unable to do so. More than fifty percent of them had not taken any actions due to lack of transparency in the recruitment process, widespread corruption, cultural limits and other factors. In fact, this is a social issue, especially in developing societies, like Afghanistan, indicating that presence of women in the economic and structural sphere is low.
Many of respondents expressed lack of transparency in the process. Unfortunately, there are legal and regulatory problems in the process of recruitment, especially in governmental agencies, which has decreased the transparency of recruitment process, its speed and precision of work. Lack of legal transparency in the recruitment process has caused corruption, lack of trust and administrative problems. For example, right now, there are thousands of vacant jobs in departments and due to lack of transparency and trust towards the process and despite the presence of skilled and experienced people, these positions remain vacant.
This graph reflects barriers to development of women’s participation in Afghan society. Relationships, corruption in the governing system, improper working environment and illiteracy of women, lack of access to life facilities, some hidden activities for keeping women backward, and mistrust of families towards government (their beliefs) have marginalized women and they have lower share and engagement in economic and social decision-making.
By analyzing previous issues, it can be concluded that the administrative corruption, relationships, lack of transparency, lack of suitable condition, lack of permission by families and, etc. have prevented 116 women out of 200 to apply for relevant positions despite meeting conditions and criteria. Also, in cases that some of them referred, their complaints were not being handled properly.
Since economy is the science of rare crucial resources, it is considered an infrastructure of a community. When economic activities are more, widespread and more groups are included, they can be more effective and efficient. Therefore, participation of women in economic affairs improves their economic status and it is one of the major priorities in development of this country. If obstacles on women’s participation in economic activity are eliminated, they can show their talents in all fields. Unfortunately, the graph above shows women’s low presence in commercial and business activities.
Today, corruption has become a negative social phenomenon which has encountered the country with internal and external problems and damages. Meanwhile, it has turned to a culture in governmental and non-governmental organizations, which has gained the highest percentage in graph analysis. Hence, many vulnerable people (women), despite their eligibility to find jobs due to lack of transparency in the recruitment process, patriarchy, lack of trust by their families and priority of relations to regulations in organization, their participation and involvement in key decisions and their role in governmental departments is low.
This graph shows that cultural restrictions, patriarchy, administrative corruption and cultural beliefs in the society have a direct impact on recruitment and active participation of women in society. In fact, these irrational beliefs against women as a human being have become an integral part in the minds of men and they deprived women from participating in economic and social activities. According to respondents, family disputes, false beliefs, illiteracy, insecurity, lack of proper conditions in working environment and lack of attention to women’s rights are problems that play a crucial role in their low participation in economic activities.
According to the reasons listed in the graph earlier, this study and respondents suggest low presence of women in public administration and economic activity. However, a series of proposals can be discussed in this study that in fact may be the best development solution for large-scale participation of women. If the government and authorities aim to fight against corruption and discrimination and try to provide job opportunities, implement the principle of meritocracy, respect women’s rights and ensure security which is the most important element in participation of women in social affairs, women can easily show their interest in all fields, advocate for their rights and use their ability to flourish their talents.
Conclusion and Suggestions:
Women are entitled to work in the government and private businesses, whether in independent or legal systems. This means that there is no legal impediment to women’s work and economic activity. However, based on their physical condition, the legislator has set certain supportive rules. According to the law, women have all basic and political rights and freedoms, but in practice, there is a direct relationship between the guarantee of women’s fundamental rights and freedoms and their financial independence.
Women’s participation and recruitment and opposition of men to their work are the most important issues which have so far received little attention despite having great importance. Women face practical challenges in this case and in spite of the rules ensuring their financial independence, there are several factors, including cultural and economic poverty, discrimination, corruption, patriarchy and lack of awareness that deprive women of their rights and their participation in economic activities will be so difficult by existence of such barriers.
In addition to these issues, capacity-building and empowerment of women to attend the community is a necessity. It should also be noted that their participation in the community will not be possible without their will.
In general, it can be concluded that the presence and participation of women in various political, social, economic, cultural and, etc. affairs are possible when educational opportunities, implementation of the principle of meritocracy, fight against corruption and discrimination, provision of litigation, reflection of women’s abilities, justice and gender equality and, etc. are guaranteed for them throughout the country and there are cultural and intellectual changes in society towards women.
Special thanks to the DAI-Promote Mushariket project that by donation (Policy Advocacy for Women’s Access to Economic Empowerment) provided the opportunity for (Women Integrity for Society Empowerment Organization (WISE-O) to implement this research too.