July 16th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

Will Afghan women's rights be bargained away?

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.

Read the full commentary from Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Filed under: Kabul conference • Taliban • Voices • Women's issues • Your View
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Iraq Paramedic

    @ Radical; Mohammad's wife was 20 years older than Mohammad & she was the one who told him what he saw & heard in his supposed visions from God. These visions where actually epileptic siezures. The Q'uran you study today has been changed 4 times. It is not the original word that Mohammad's grandfather taught. Wake up!
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2010 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Paul

    The inherent claim... in this case the inherent claim to attend school and not receive threatening "night letters" from the Taliban solely because the Taliban believe women should not attend school. For years, even when the Taliban were in control, women held secret schools. Some times the teachers were imprisoned, sometimes not. But, because women, like men, know that there is more out there they want to read about their religion, read about their future or past, or just be part of (or leading) their community.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ronvan

    Lets not mislead ourselves. These countries have been "brainwashed" for centuries in their history and traditions. Who are WE to "force" our lifestyles on anyone? Are WE so perfect that we can tell others that "our way" is the ONLY way?
    This world has countries that are heaped in traditions, some good some bad, as our country has. We can stay here for 20yrs. but when we leave traditions will return.

    July 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Okay, lets not talk about goons, brain washing, or any of the such. The women want to go to school. That is the point. Some of the men say no school because of tradition. These are the same men who cannot read themselves (Afghanistan has about a 25% literacy rate) So, because the men are ignorant and live only by what they are told they are the oppressed ones themselves.

      July 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Radical

        who told you that Taliban prevent woman from school Taliban prevent mixed school and they prevent young man from teaching teen ages there was school for woman that the teachers is woman too but occupation mad new school that include brain wash inside, things like Taliban are Satan and nothing his name jihad and overt invitation for Christianity

        July 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Radical

        prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wife was giving lessons in Hadith

        July 16, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • Radical


        July 16, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Susan Maris

    There is still time for Afghan women to play a significant role in determining the future of their country. Just look at the role they played in the recent jirga:

    July 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel-2

    Back in 1992 when the Communists finally surrendered,whatever rights the Afghan women had were lost along with any hope of advancing in Afghan society which had always been dominated by men.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |