After 20 years with a Western supported political order, Taliban is back in power in Afghanistan. What could this mean for the rights of Afghan women? This project examines the relationship between gender and Islam in Afghanistan as it affects womens rights and protections at this dramatic political juncture. Taliban has long declared their intentions to establish a more Islamic Afghanistan. Yet there has been little rigorous, empirical research into the rival understandings of rights within religious frameworks and their significance in the shaping of power and politics. The project will study the main schools of thoughts and debates within Afghanistan with respect to women's rights in Islam. Who are the main participants, groups and sources of inspiration? How are rights defined, and with reference to which traditions and school of thoughts? And what existing rights and approaches to Islamic law do the courts actually implement today? The findings will contribute to the comparative literature on Islamic law and gender as well as the literature on gender politics in Muslim-majority settings. The project has policy relevance for all actors concerned with the present transition phase in Afghan history. The project is carried out by Afghan and Norwegian researchers. It is led by Chr Michelsen Institute (CMI) in collaboration with the University of Bergen, where it is linked to a major research collaboration on Islamic law.
This project will examine the relationship between gender and Islam in Afghanistan as it affects women’s rights and protections at a time when the country’s political order is being reshaped. US military withdrawal signals the decline of Western influence, and negotiations with Taliban on a peace settlement suggest an increasing political prominence for conservative and Islamist forces. At this critical juncture, which rights Afghan women can legitimately and realistically claim in the new order are deeply contested questions, both inside and outside the country.
Since 2001, international focus on the status of Afghan women has been intense but heavily politicized. Yet there has been little rigorous, empirical research into what we may view as the discursive and legal-political infrastructure of women’s rights in contemporary Afghanistan. This project has identified two areas for in-depth empirical research in this regard: (i) the nature and constituencies of the local/national religious discourses that frame how women’s rights are codified and implemented (or not) in practice, and (ii) the legal rights and protections that differently positioned Afghan women are actually able to access, particularly through the courts. The project findings will be a significant contribution to the comparative literature on Islamic law and gender as well as gender politics in Muslim majority settings more generally. Advocates of Afghan women’s rights and their supporters will be able to draw on a fuller body of knowledge that shows how the courts interpret and adjudicate rights and legal frameworks pertaining to gender.