4 Oct 2011

Fears for women's rights in Afghanistan

9:40 am on 4 October 2011

British aid agencies are nervous that women's rights might be traded away during peace talks in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai has abandoned plans for negotiations with the Taliban and is instead seeking direct talks with Pakistan.

But Oxfam and Action Aid said many Afghan women were worried that improvements could be sacrificed to secure a political deal with the Taliban.

An survey of 1000 Afghan women by Action Aid found that 86% were worried about a return to a Taliban-style government.

Action Aid said many women were still denied basic rights.

The BBC reports the charity found that 72% of those surveyed felt that things had improved for them since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

But 37% feared their country would become a worse place following the departure of international troops.

Two-thirds of Afghan women said they felt safer now than they did 10 years ago.

Those polled were in the provinces of Kabul, Balkh, Kandahar, Herat and Bamiyan.

Oxfam and Action Aid said there has been real progress in girls' education and with better health care, more women in work and a new constitution that enshrined equal rights for women.

But they warned that these fragile advances are already under threat from worsening security in Afghanistan and the Taliban.