Hundreds of women marched in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on March 8 to mark International Women's Day and to remind authorities that much remains to be done to give Afghan women a voice, ensure their education, and protect them from increasing violence.
The head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Sima Samar, addressed women in Afghanistan's security forces.
"Your safety represents the safety of all Afghan women," she said, reminding women in uniform to report any abuse by superiors to the rights commission.
Samar said no one has the right to comment on their physical appearance or to speak to them disrespectfully.
The overall situation for Afghan women has gradually improved in the last decade, especially in the major urban areas, but those living in rural parts of the country still face major discrimination and violence.
In a March 8 statement, the United Nations called on the Afghan government to redouble efforts to ensure that "women’s voices are heard in public and women are members of key decision-making bodies such as the Supreme Court or holders of senior positions such as governorships or ministerial appointments."
"Empowering urban and rural Afghan women is essential to reducing poverty, inequality, and violence against women," said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the UN in Afghanistan.
Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, have voiced concern at women's rights in Afghanistan.