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August 1st, 2006
Flying Down to Kabul
Women in Afghanistan: Introduction

In the decades that preceded the rule of the Taliban, Afghan woman and girls enjoyed increasing access to education, political participation, and the professional world. Women were appointed to top levels of government and taught in prestigious intellectual institutions, and by 1996, when the Taliban reached Kabul, about 50 percent of the country’s civil servants were women.

While prolonged war and an uncertain post-conflict environment have taken their toll on all of Afghan society, the women and girls of Afghanistan have faced particular adversity. Much of the discrimination experienced by women stems from inequalities in education, political representation, and employment that were exacerbated during the misogynistic rule of the Taliban. Since the Taliban were forced from power in late 2001, however, women and girls throughout Afghanistan have made courageous attempts to reclaim their rights to an education and a role in the public sphere — even as the political climate in their country remains unstable. In the tabs below, follow the links to learn more about the recent history of Afghan womens’ changing roles in education, politics, and the professional world.

Sources: UNESCO, Journal of Education for International Development, Journal of International Women’s Studies, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, the United Nations, Teachers College at Columbia University

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