Obstacles Within the International Community: The Exercise of Afghan Women’s Agency for Peace in Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Under the Taliban’s draconian interpretation of Shari’a law, Afghan women were forced from public life and publicly executed for minor infractions. Yet, in just over two years since the Taliban fell, the women of Afghanistan have entered the political arena and successfully pressed for specific language in the Afghan constitution enshrining women’s rights as human rights. From being the most oppressed women in the world to enjoying the promise of more seats in Parliament than many Western nations, Afghan women have clearly made gigantic strides in their quest for peace and security. Their remarkable progress, however, is overshadowed by the current unstable security situation in Afghanistan and the lack of international political and military assistance which are needed to consolidate the successes that the Afghan women have realized. How has this seemingly rapid transformation of Afghan women occurred? The answer may partially lie in the concept of development as freedom put forth by Amartya Sen in his 1999 book, Development as Freedom …In his view, people are not simply human capital to be considered only as one part of three in an economic equation for development, but people-liberated from ‘unfreedoms’ such as poverty and illiteracy-who can build capacity through their own agency as the Afghan women have done.