The central objective of this paper is to put the discussion of women’s rights in Afghanistan in the context of the multiple transitions entailed by the process of post-conflict reconstruction: a security transition (from war to peace), a political transition (to the formation of a legitimate and effective state) and a socioeconomic transition (from a "conflict" economy to sustainable growth). The paper is divided into three sections, plus an introduction and conclusion:
the first section contextualises current attempts at securing women’s rights in the troubled history of state-building and state-society relations in Afghanistan
the second section discusses the implications of the far-reaching changes in social relations brought about by years of war and displacement following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
the third section focuses on processes of institutional development and reform since the Bonn Agreement in 200.
The author concludes that there are crippling disjunctures between different facets of post-conflict transition. Legal and governance reforms have advanced at a faster pace than has been achieved in the security sector or the transition to sustainable livelihoods. There is also a disjuncture between, on the one hand, the time frames adopted and outputs expected by international actors driving the women’s rights agenda, and on the other, the length of time required for non-cosmetic changes in societal relations to develop as a result of peace-building. Since the issue of women’s rights continues to occupy a highly politicised and sensitive place in the struggles between contending political factions in Afghanistan, this disjuncture may itself produce unintended effects, with disempowering consequences for women.