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Logan Beatty

Mrs. Damalos

Pre-IB Inquiry Skills

13 March 2017

Individual Essay- Afghanistan Gender Roles

Gender roles in Afghanistan define a persons potential and worth to society.

Additionally, patriarchy has shaped the countrys beliefs. Afghanistan has been a battleground

on the home front for many conflicts all throughout history. These tensions and pressures

influence daily life in the country because of common dangerous situations. In the past, these

have included mines, missiles, and militia. Afghanistan gender roles are influenced by the

countrys history in addition to stereotypes and family life.

In Afghanistan, women are seen as possessions rather than as people. Once married, they

become subservient to their husbands and are not allowed to be seen by other men. Additionally,

child marriage to a much older man is not uncommon, and Afghan men often practice polygamy.

To prevent men from seeing a woman, she is told to wear a blue burqa. As stated in How does

Afghanistan treat women? Here's what I saw, ...the blue burqa stands as an icon for the

oppression of Afghanistan's women because the Taliban forced women to wear the full body and

face cover while they were in public. (Schmickle). However, the burqa is not the only restrictive

gender role imposed on women. Since they are subservient to men, Afghan women are the last

to be fed when food supply is low. Therefore, malnutrition in women and girls is especially high

in Afghanistan. Additionally, female gender roles and grievances include submission to marital

rape, less opportunity for education, and segregation based on gender.


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Often when discussing gender roles in the Middle East, stereotypes for men are

overlooked because of the dramatic roles of women in those societies. However, standards for

young men are to exert their dominance over women and other men to be the strongest. In

Afghan and modern Islamic society, strength is power, so anyone with weakness is effectively

ostracized from contributing to the community. As stated in Manly Honor and the Gendered

Male in Afghanistan, ...there is tremendous social pressure on men, especially younger men, to

adhere to stereotypes of masculinity; for example, disallowing womenfolk to emerge from the

confines of the house and enter the public domain. (Azarbaijani-Moghaddam). Other actions

that are expected of the male Afghan are to refer to women as possessions of other men and to

protect them from other people by forcing them to conceal themselves in burqas. Moreover,

men who do not control their womenfolk are often looked down upon and made fun of for

lacking societal stereotypes.

Afghan family life can include physical violence and abuse. It is not uncommon for a

husband to beat his wife and this behavior is commonly accepted. As stated by the Norwegian

Afghanistan Committee,...a husband can beat his wife if she has challenged his authority or

otherwise failed in one of her domestic duties. Over 90% of women accept as a principle that a

husband has the right to use physical violence (Family Structure and Marriage). Some of a

womans domestic duties in Afghanistan include taking care of children, not running away,

cooking, sex, and being agreeable. Interestingly, Middle Eastern society has trained women to

accept this behavior. Even women who have received secondary education often believe this is a

justified way for a man to control his wife.


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Pakistani women have more power in the home than Afghan women do. They have

authority over their children and in matters of the home. As stated by the University of Western

Florida, The head matriarch is often the person who selects the brides for the familys sons and

holds authority over younger wives. (Society and norms Gender Roles: Women). A woman

in Pakistan holds considerably more authority than one in Afghanistan due to better education

and respect. However, unmarried Pakistani women over the age of 25 and divorced women are

looked down upon. Although women have fewer rights in Afghanistan than they do in Pakistan,

women in both countries are subservient to their male counterparts in society. Women in both

countries are sometimes subject to child marriage and domestic abuse. Moreover, gender roles

in each country depend on the ethnic group a person is a member of.

Overall, gender roles in Afghanistan are strict and based on stereotypes. A women is

expected to be subservient to her husband, who is expected to be controlling of his wife.

Domestic abuse and child marriage are common occurrences. Many times, gender roles have

been influenced by powerful political groups including the United States, the Soviets, and the

Taliban. If other countries would not have gotten involved, it is possible that Afghanistan would

be in a better situation.

Works Cited

Azarbaijani-Moghaddam, Sippi. Manly Honor and the Gendered Male in Afghanistan. Middle

Eastern Institute, 23 Apr. 2012. Mei.edu/content/manly-honor-and-gendered-male-

afghanistan. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.


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Bruce, Andrea. After Childbirth Trauma, Afghan Women Emerge from Life in Shadows.

UNFPA, 7 June 2016. Unfpa.org/news/after-childbirth-trauma-afghan-women-

emerge-life-shadows. Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.

Family. Country Studies. Countrystudies.us/afghanistan/57.htm. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017

Family structure and marriage. Norwegian Afghanistan Committee. Afghanistan.no/English/

Sectors/Women/Family_stucture_and_marriage/index.html. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

Gender Data Portal- Afghanistan. The World Bank. Datatopics.worldbank.org/gender/country/

afghanistan. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.

Gender Data Portal- Pakistan. The World Bank. Datatopics.worldbank.org/gender/country/

pakistan. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

Life as an Afghan Woman. Trust in Education. Trustineducation.org/resources/life-as-an-

afghan-woman/. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

Passy, Megan. 4 myths about women and girls on the move. Norwegian Refugee Council, 6

Mar. 2016. Nrc.no/perspectives/2017/4-myths-about-women-and-girls-on-the-move/.

Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.

Schmickle, Sharon. How does Afghanistan treat women? Here's what I saw. MinnPost, 4 Oct.

2009. Minnpost.com/politics-policy/2009/04/how-does-afghanistan-treat-women-heres-

what-i-saw. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.

Shayan, Zafar. Gender Inequality in Education in Afghanistan: Access and Barriers. Open

Journal of Philosophy, 23 Apr. 2015. File.scirp.org/pdf/OJPP_2015042313174030.pdf.

Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.


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Society and norms Gender Roles: Men. Afghanistan. University of Western Florida.

Uwf.edu/atcdev/afghanistan/society/Lesson3GenderRoles3Men.html. Accessed 9 Mar.

2017.

Society and norms Gender Roles: Women. Afghanistan. University of Western Florida.

Uwf.edu/atcdev/afghanistan/society/Lesson3GenderRoles2Women.html. Accessed 9

Mar. 2017.

Society and norms Gender Roles: Women. Pakistan. University of Western Florida.

uwf.edu/atcdev/pakistan/web/Society/3BSociety.html. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations. Un.org/en/universal-declaration-

human-rights/. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.