Afghan Women in Politics - Response to Kemi

9 October 2005
I very much appreciated your comments about encouraging men to be active as supporters of women's rights. I find it an essential part of gender work... indeed returning us to the true definition of the word! I agree that propaganda can be good, demonstrating that women are out there and politically active and taking control of their lives. Here's my concern: if there is a perception that quotas are externally driven, imported, and imposed, there will be a backlash for women. I'm now an advocate of easing our way in... makes for more sustainable change. And, of course, taking the lead from women here about the pace of change that suits them. We say this... but do we actually do it? Are we able to respect women in Afghanistan (or elsewhere) when they say that we are moving too fast for them? I had an interesting conversation with an Afghan woman yesterday. I asked her how she feels about women in parliament and she said "Parliament is not for women. This is a big chair, they cannot fill it. If they try, somebody might kill them. Men don't want to see women improve their lives. They think it is at their expense. No foreigner can come in and change this. If an organization comes to help men, this is better. First work and training, and then talk about change and women." What do you think?
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