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A Troubled Future for the Women of Afghanistan

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This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, as well as the toppling of the Taliban, although parts of the country are still controlled by this extreme militia. There is talk that when the troops leave Afghanistan in the presumed near future, the situation for women will worsen due to the fact that the Afghani government is apparently making plans for reconciliation with the Taliban.

This is not to say that women today are faring so well. The treatment of women who are under the thumb of the Taliban is now being considered as part of local culture. In other words the West has changed its attitude due to its efforts to extricate itself from this war.

Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International, an organization that gives support to women in countries ravaged by war. She testified before the U.S. senate and said American politicians are not very interested in protecting women in Afghanistan. This is in spite of support from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Samira Hamidi is director of the Afghan Women’s Network, and she observed the same attitude. She noted this lack of interest in women’s rights and fears that with the troops gone, Afghani women will be ignored.

According to The Guardian, improvements have been made in the lives of the women in the last ten years. Fifty seven percent of women and girls go to school, and women comprise 24 percent of health care workers and 10 percent of the judiciary.

But activists said that women living in extremely poor areas, which are usually controlled by the Taliban, do not have access to health care, social care, and important freedoms.

Politician Malalai Joya, elected to the Afghan national assembly in 2005, is known as the “bravest woman in Afghanistan.” She said the following: “The situation of women is a disaster. Men and women today are squashed between three enemies - the Taliban, the warlords and also the occupation forces who are bombing from the skies and killing civilians, women and children. Now the Taliban are being invited into the government - there is no question the situation of women will be more disastrous and more bloody.”

Add a Comment3 Comments

Anna, My apologies for responding so late. To my knowledge, there is no available data that tracks the percentage of Afghan women who are entrepreneurs. This is a goal the Institute has had for a couple of years now. With the best of research, we can only estimate the total number of women business owners there are in the country. However, in an article I recently read via Relief Web, the Herat Chamber of Commerce director is quoted as saying there are 1,500 female, small business owners there. Two of our graduates also own their own women's organizations. One of them, Qandi Amaki, is founder of the Balkh Women's Business Association, which has more than 650 members and she has trained nearly 300 more to develop business plans and start micro businesses. Kubra Zalfi is another business entrpreneur who has a women's business association that has 500 members. I have only pointed out 3,000 women entrpreneurs but there are so many other women who have their own businesses and are training others to do the same AND be successful. -Dr. Terry Neese

March 8, 2011 - 1:55pm

Dear Dr. Neese,
I would be interested in knowing what percentage of Afghani women are entrepreneurs.
Thanks for your comments.
Anna Portela

March 1, 2011 - 2:48pm

Women entrepreneurs are the driving force of the economy in Afghanistan. There are increased outcomes in Afghanistan because of America’s influence. Women are opening businesses and becoming self-reliant. The old saying, “When you educate a woman, you educate a nation,” is being proven repeatedly in Afghanistan. The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women exists to make sure this happens and it is. - Dr. Terry Neese

March 1, 2011 - 2:12pm
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