Daily Video

March 24, 2009

Despite Gains, Afghan Women Still Struggle

Many Afghan women and girls are seeing increased access to schools and other opportunities since the fall of Taliban rule in 2001, but they still encounter cultural barriers to education and personal independence.

Although school attendance for girls is up across Afghanistan — 35 percent of Afghan students are girls — security issues prevented hundreds of schools from reopening this year.

Afghan women have created alternative avenues for support from other women, like special community groups or an anonymous call-in TV show, to discuss issues such as economic independence, violence, and domestic troubles.

Roshanak Wardak, a Member of Parliament in Afghanistan, notes that deeper cultural issues underlie strict Taliban restrictions

“We have our own special culture, and also culture has a limited activity of the woman. For example, a woman cannot — she is not safe when she is alone. She needs a man. And, also, she doesn’t have enough income. She is dependent to the man,” Wardak said.

In this video, NewsHour Correspondent Margaret Warner reports from Afghanistan on the current state and future of Afghan women.

Quotes

“I see my future better, because they have trained me to be a more professional tailor and I can make money out of it. I can also train some of my daughters, and we can start a small business.” – Homa Najibi, Afghan woman.

“Those parts which are under control of Taliban, women are very much miserable. Their situation is very much miserable. I would like to say this. Our government never pay attention to those ladies.” – Roshanak Wardak, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan

“In Afghanistan, a lot of social problems women cannot share with their very close friends, because from the beginning the woman, especially in Afghanistan, they have been told not to talk about their problems with others. They don’t feel confident when they talk with someone, so they hide it.” – Farzana Samimi, Host, “Banu,” Tolo TV

Warm Up Questions

1. Do boys and girls have the same rights?

2. What are some ways governments, laws or religious institutions might restrict women’s rights?

Discussion Questions

1. What are some examples of the new freedoms that Afghan women are experiencing?

2. What are some examples of problems that Afghan women still face?

3. Why would the Taliban forbid girls from going to school?

4. According to this report, Afghan women have an 11 percent literacy rate. In what ways might education benefit Afghan women?

5. Does it matter to you if Afghan women are free? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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