Emad Barsoum writes: Contrasting Realities: FIFA Women’s World Cup Cheers, While Afghan Women’s Rights Crumble
Amidst Global Celebrations, Afghanistan Faces Deepening Crisis of Women’s Rights
– “Dad, come watch this commercial about the French National Football team playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.” cried, my daughter…
– “My dear, these are famous French men players.” I laughed as if I was correcting her…
– “Just wait and see Dad!” she replied with an even more sarcastic smile filled with confidence in a winning debate.
What I watched stunned me! A very brilliant commercial showing how talented and professional those players are, however, they first used the faces of famous men players and mounted them on the movements and skills of the women’s team.
It’s indeed a tragic irony; the world’s attention has been split between the exhilarating matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the worsening crisis of women’s rights in Afghanistan. While cheers and applause echo from stadiums where the cup is played, for the impressive feats of female athletes, the haunting reality unfolds as Afghan women’s rights are systematically stripped away, leaving them in a dire situation of deprivation and despair.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup has undeniably drawn global attention, showcasing the remarkable talents of women footballers who inspire and empower millions. The tournament signifies progress on the front of gender equality in the sports world, a beacon of hope for future generations of women athletes. However, this spectacle has also inadvertently illuminated the shadows cast by the unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan.
The women of Afghanistan, once making strides toward education and professional careers, now face an alarming regression. With the Taliban’s resurgence, their rights to education, healthcare, and personal safety are under threat. Schools have been shuttered, and female students and teachers are living in a state of constant fear. Basic healthcare is increasingly inaccessible, leading to serious maternal and child health consequences.
Reports of abuse, severe harassment, and a return to oppressive cultural norms have become increasingly disturbing. The progress made over the past two decades appears to be unraveling, leaving Afghan women vulnerable and voiceless. The international community’s focus on the World Cup might inadvertently overshadow the cries for help coming from Afghanistan’s women.
The roots of this crisis can be traced back to the hasty withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, most notably the government of the United States. The vacuum created by the departure of international troops left space for the Taliban to regain control. The West’s engagement with the Taliban, under the guise of peace negotiations, encouraged the extremist group, leading to a swift takeover of the regime. The abrupt withdrawal seemingly abandoned the Afghan people, particularly its women, who are now paying the price for diplomatic miscalculations or hidden agendas!
As the world watches and cheers for women athletes, it is crucial not to forget those who do not have the luxury of pursuing their dreams freely. The international community, and especially those nations that played a role in Afghanistan’s recent history must not turn a blind eye to the plight of Afghan women. Urgent diplomatic efforts are needed to pressure the Taliban to implement and restore women’s rights, equality, humanity, and safety.