Women and the Making of the 2004 Afghanistan Constitution
Women and the Making of the 2004 Afghanistan Constitution
Homa Hoodfar
Abstract: This article argues that the history of the women’s rights movement in Afghanistan did not start with the Taliban. In fact, it was the Constitution of 1964 that enshrined constitutional guarantees of women’s rights in Afghanistan and these rights were once again reaffirmed in the 2004 Constitution. Women’s rights and gender relations in Afghanistan had gone through major changes both as a result of progressive state ideologies from 1973 to 1992 and as a result of exposure to the very different social and political systems in neighbouring countries, as well as Europe, by virtue of refugee movement from 1979 to 2001. Focusing on the constitution making process that culminated in the 2004 Constitution, this article argues that it is important to note as well that Afghan women, having experienced life under the Taliban, were determined to defend their rights and freedoms. They mobilised and drew lessons from the experiences of women’s rights advocates from other Muslim majority countries and also learned about the international women’s rights movement from the Beijing platform. Women in Afghanistan were acutely aware that the end of a long war often offers an opportunity for change. Finally, this article highlights the participatory nature of the Constitution making process in which an unprecedented number of Afghan citizens participated through extensive public consultations, in sharp contrast to the 1964 Constitution and the 2005 Taliban Constitution.

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