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 (17 Responses)
  1. naser from afghanistan

    If US want peace in Afghanistan, it should shift 90 percent of government offices into hands of women. Because women never become Taliban, warlord, druglord, so much corrupt and selfish. It is a good way to bring peace. Men in Afghanistan have proved that they are not eligible for ruling their country.

    July 19, 2010 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Anabel

      I agree that would be the ideal way forward. Unfortunately greed and corruption along with drug abuse and misogyny would stop it in it's tracks.

      July 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Iraq Paramedic

    @ CNN; you guys are so ignorant that you are scared to tell the truth. so sad there talks of the mistakes of the christain faith & ya'll print it. I tell of the mistakes of the Islamic faith & ya'll don't print it. I thought you where supposed to be unbiased? BS !
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2010 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. so sad

    Iraq Paramedic--its so sad that people like you had been programed to heat Islam from the people in the church who they used to r a p e them while they was child as we saw in the news. and people like you don't even entrust them self small exertion to look at the tens of the version of there holy s e x y bible to find the discrepancy and the distortion but why you care about this and why you care about lying and doing adultery inside the church as long as Jesus had die for your sin so do what ever you want no problem.and yes the different between prophet (pbuh) and his wife is 20 year old and it was marriage and this is better than sanctimoniousness while you are r a p i n g the kids in the place that you prayer in it....i suggest on you to go and have some debris of Jesus status in Ohio to get blessed may be you will understand you idiot ..............

    July 17, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. Iraq Paramedic

    @ ronvan; if you will read Ezekiel 37-40, the whole book of Isaiah & the book of Revalations out of a 1611 King James Bible it would clear up a lot of things for you. The Bible is actually a translation of the Greek & Hebrew writings as well as the Jewish Tora. The Q'uran has most of the old testament in it. The original forms of these books have not changed, some men here on earth though have changed their words to suit there own worldly lust. You have to have great faith & the gift of the Holy Spirit to decern the true word. I pray you find that faith & GOD sends the Holy Spirit to help you in your quest for the truth.
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Anabel

      I think you meant to say 'Salaam' not Islam.

      July 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ronvan

    IRAQ PARAMEDIC: Now you bring up a point I have thought about many times. IF you are correct and the Q'uran has been changed 4 times, then lets ask how many times the bible and other religious teachings have been changed? If all these books & beleifs are accurate then why do they keep changing? Some faiths have taught "their way" for centuries, and yet today we can see changes being announced. SO, what are we to believe? For me it comes down to "FAITH" WE BELEIVE what we have been taught and raised with! So again I use the term "brainwashed", and if you accept this then why would we think that we can change or influence the Muslim faith? I am not an expert here, but have heard that the Q'uran supports what is going on in Iraq, Aftanistan, and throughout the world, as to WE are the infidels & need to be wiped out? If true then again, because of "BELEIF'S" and teachings would not we expect that attacks would continue from generation to generation? Also because of these beleifs & teachings, "brainwashing" over centuries why do we think that WE are going to influence/change how women in these countries are treated?

    July 17, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. 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 |
    • Radical

      Dont speak for me you ignorant paki

      July 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 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 |
  8. 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 |
  9. 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 |
  10. 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 |