Torpikai Nawabi is an elected Member of the Kabul Provincial Council. She has an MA in Administration and Management from India. She has been a long-term activist in favour of women's rights.
Photo : Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA / Matthieu Hackière
Have your rights ever been violated?
Violations of human rights occur every day in this country. I am a member of this society and therefore, a victim of human rights violations. During the election campaigns, I noticed that women's pictures were torn down and pictures of male candidates were posted in their place. My pictures were also torn down. This is a clear violation..
What gives you hope for the future?
My very presence as a woman in the field of politics and my exercise of my rights. This is a positive development that gives me hope in the future.
What are some important achievements in Afghanistan since the time of the Taliban?
One can mention the remarkable activities of the civil society, the existence of freedom of expression, and access of girls to education in most parts of Afghanistan.
What do you fear most today?
My greatest fear is that we may return to the pre-1992 dark days with the impending withdrawal of the international forces from Afghanistan.
What are the biggest challenges facing Afghanistan?
Firstly, the security challenge is clear for all to see. Another challenge is youth unemployment. They are seeking asylum in western countries and migrating to find work. Occasionally, you read reports of boats carrying illegal Afghan migrants sinking in international waters with all the people on board drowning. Economic weakness is another challenge, which leads to many other challenges.
Is it possible that girls could once again be banned from schools and women excluded from social participation, as was the case under the Taliban rule?
I don't believe that anybody wants a recurrence of that scenario in Afghanistan, because the people have experienced it once and saw that it arrived at a very tragic outcome. Popular uprisings against the Taliban prove that the people do not want them to rule Afghanistan anymore.
Can you tell us about any specific occasions where the human rights of a female family member or friend were violated?
The worst memory of mine and all of the female members of my family is that we were all deprived of the right to education and work for nearly six years under the Taliban.
Which factors deter women from participating in social, economic, political and cultural spheres?
One factor is the lack of security. Another are the repressive customs that don't allow women to engage in political issues. Men always think that only the political parties can engage in political activities. And since the women are not in the political parties, they do not have the right to engage in political affairs. Finally, women do not believe the promises of the government made up of men, and of the international community.
What do women want?
They want to see security established so that people can enjoy the benefits and rights given to them in the law, both through the sharia and the Constitution. Secondly, they want to see a better economic situation for families. Poverty and underdevelopment prevents some members of families gaining their education. Finally, they want to see the reprehensible customs reformed and a society that functions in accordance with the rule of law, so that all people will achieve their rights.
Which sources and centres of power can women rely on to promote their rights and demands?
Civil society is the most reliable source for women to advance their rights and demands. Through solidarity of civil society institutions which put pressure on the government, women can achieve their goals.
What do you wish for your daughter?
I do not have a daughter. All the girls of Afghanistan are my daughters. I wish that they will never face the challenges we faced and go on living, working, and studying in a humane environment like girls all over the world.
Any final messages you wish to share?
My hope is that there will be peace in the nation of Afghanistan, enjoyed by all its people. I wish there will be no more problems in this land. I pray to God for a good government to take office after the elections so that all the people will enjoy their rights equally and that the law will be implemented equally for all.
"Unveiling Afghanistan, the Unheard Voices of Progress" is a campaign by Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA and FIDH, which explores views held by Afghan civil society actors. Influential social, political and cultural actors hope to spark conversation and debate about building a society that is inclusive of women's and human rights in Afghanistan.
You can read original interviews in Dari on Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA