Afghanistan is still one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, and some critics warn that we are getting it wrong.
This is a message that will be hard to swallow for the participants of this week’s London Conference on Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, things are better today for Afghan women than they were before the US intervention. For example:
- A woman giving birth in Afghanistan is less than half as likely to die today than she was in 2000.
- The number of girls attending school has increased by over 30 percent since 2002, and numbers of child-brides has been declining in recent years.
- Young women in Afghanistan, particularly those living in large urban areas have been exposed to a life very different from those lived by their mothers, and even older sisters. Women from this generation are making their claims to greater opportunities -education and employment, as well as protection from violence.
This progress has been hard won through the efforts of local groups and activists and the support of the international community. Last week in Olso, in the run up to the London Conference, Senator Bob Casey pledged the United States’ continuing support for women’s rights in Afghanistan. As former co-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs and a current member of the Senate’s National Security Working Group, Senator Casey- and Senator Barbara Boxer- have been champions of what was, at the start of the US intervention in 2001, a dire situation for many women in Afghanistan.
Not everyone agrees with this agenda however.