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Raising hope for women in Afghanistan

Afghan girls attend lessons, on the outskirts of Kabul in Afghanistan. Photograph: SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

From The Guardian:

“For the past 10 years we have watched a giant social experiment in Afghanistan, an experiment in feminism in one of the most misogynist cultures in the world. It may only have touched a minority in the big cities, but an entire generation of girls were born and raised with a widely promoted idea: that they had a right to an education, to vote, to hold paid employment, to stand for elected office and even to live a life without domestic violence and forced marriage. If you are an Afghan woman under 20 today, there’s a chance you got schooling and encouragement, from western NGO-led programmes with military security support, to be more like “us”.

Oxfam’s report released this week to mark Friday’s 10th anniversary of US and British forces’ intervention in Afghanistan cited “2.7 million girls in school, compared to a few thousand in Taliban times”. Action Aid claimed in its report that women’s rights “were slowly but steadily improving after the fall of the Taliban”, adding that this improvement had stalled in 2005-6 with the growing insurgency. The charity commissioned a poll of 1,000 women from different tribes, regions and social backgrounds across the country, which found that 72% believe their lives are better now than 10 years ago; 37% think the country will become a worse place if international troops leave, and 86% fear a return to Taliban rule – many naming their daughter’s education as their main concern. Homa, 50, a teacher from Mazar-e-Sharif, says: “Women are the most vulnerable if the Taliban come back. Women will be back in their homes like prisoners…”

Read the full article.

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