Has America Helped Afghan Women?

For basic rights, Kabul is a haven. Elsewhere, the stats remain grim.

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Progress Begins at Home

The US invasion put an end to Taliban-era restrictions on women in the workplace, school, voting, and public office. And in theory, at least, Afghans support those changes: Last year, a countrywide survey of 6,593 Afghan men and women revealed strong support for women‘s right to attend school (89 percent), vote (84 percent), and work outside the home (69 percent). More than half said that women should be represented equally in leadership positions. But as novelist Khaled Hosseini points out in “MoJo Interview: Khaled Hosseini, Kabul’s Splendid Son,” those attitudes are put in practice primarily in Kabul, historically something of a cultural island. Across Afghanistan, 57 percent of girls marry before age 16, as many as 80 percent against their will. Boys outnumber girls in secondary school by more than 3-to-1, and the UN logged 293 school-related attacks this past year, a 26 percent jump from 2007—at least 721 schools have been closed due to attacks or threats. Kavita Ramdas, head of the Global Fund for Women, doesn’t find these contradictions surprising, given Afghans’ antipathy toward outsiders telling them what to do. “It isn’t that there aren’t ordinary Afghans who want their daughters to go to school and have the chance to work…but they are a very proud people.” Rather than bankrolling armies of foreign nonprofits, she says, we should be opening our wallets to Afghan civil groups—particularly ones run by women. “Afghan women will make more strides,” Ramdas says, “when their struggles are seen as their own.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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