Afghans make up half of BBC's 100 Women 2021

(Credit: Victuallers, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The BBC on Tuesday revealed its list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2021, with half who are from or work in Afghanistan. 

The annual list is based on those women who have contributed to reinventing society, culture, and the world, the British broadcaster said. 

This year, Afghan activists, artists, doctors, and entrepreneurs take the spotlight. Some women appear under pseudonyms and without photos for their safety.

Among them are Lima Aafshid, an award-winning poet and writer, Rada Akbar, an artist who organises annual "Superwomen" exhibitions to mark International Women’s Day, and Halima Sadaf Karimi, a former member of the Afghan Parliament and the only woman from the Uzbek minority, who fought for the rights of her community.

The broadcaster pointed to the violations of women's rights under the Taliban, with Afghan women being forced to rebuild their lives. "This year's list recognises the scope of their bravery and their achievements as they are forced to reset their lives."

But some Afghan women called the practice nothing more than a red tape. Fawzia Nasary a student of Kabul university told the Geneva Solutions: “Afghan women are currently the most unfortunate women on the planet who do not even have their basic rights. Their daughters do not have the right to education and, themselves, do not have the right to work.” 

“Even among these women whose names are mentioned on the list, there is a majority whose future is no longer clear. The status of those who have left the country are unknown, and those who are still in the country, are on the verge of deprivation and metamorphosis. So, in this situation, what pain does mentioning their names in the list of influential women cure?”

But some other women consider it as a good omen. They believe that the 50 per cent share of Afghan women in the list of the 100 most influential women in the world will make the international community pay more attention to the problems of women in Afghanistan.

Suraya Ahmad is a teacher living in Nangarhar province. She said to Geneva Solutions: “This is a good deed and a great honour for all Afghan women. The name of 50 Afghan women represents that Afghan women have great abilities and can struggle under any circumstances to move forward.” 

She added: “I am confident that now, the international community will pay more attention to reviving the rights of Afghan women.”

Sahar Fetrat is one of those women whose name is in the list. A feminist activist, filmmaker and writer, Fetrat has been the driving force behind numerous protests aimed at tackling gender stereotypes.

In her interview with the BBC, she said: “Now our mission and responsibilities are greater than before. We will join more platforms on women’s rights and human rights-related issues in Afghanistan and more will be expected from us.”

Find the full list on BBC News