On a recent afternoon I visited with a Kabul girls' high school principal, whose office looks out on a beautiful and blooming garden. Trained in mathematics, she works 12 hours a day at a school that teaches more than 4,000 girls in three shifts each day.
She smiled with pride as she pointed to a shiny gold championship cup her students brought home from a recent sports tournament. But her mood shifted instantly when I asked about their future.
"We are living day by day in Afghanistan," she said. "Let's see what comes; let's see if they have a chance. Let's see what happens with security."
She and other Afghans will be watching Tuesday when a bevy of international donors descend upon their capital to discuss the Afghan government's plan to achieve peace and stability for its citizens. Women leaders are struggling for more than symbolic representation at the Kabul Conference, which will cover topics including agricultural development, economic empowerment, governance and security.
The most talked-about topic not on the official agenda: Talks with the Taliban.