Four women who are lieutenants in the Afghanistan military have come to the United States to study English at the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. But it's their dreams of piloting helicopters that could help change the future of women in their homeland.
These four Afghan women will spend anywhere from six to eight months in San Antonio at the base where they will be mastering the English language. After that, they'll move to Alabama where they'll train with the U.S. Army and learn how to be helicopter pilots.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh discusses the challenges for women in Afghanistan, ranked the most dangerous country for women.
Mina Habib is doing what would have been unthinkable during the Taliban era. She is one of the few working female Afghan journalists.
For Habib, journalism is a passion, but it also helps support her family. Her father is unemployed, and her mother is partially paralyzed by a stroke.
From Kabul, Habib talked to CNN's Asieh Namdar about the challenges for women in Afghanistan and the inspiration, fears and risks associated with being a female journalist. FULL POST
By David Cortright, Special to CNN
Editor's Note: David Cortright is the Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author or editor of seventeen books, including most recently "Ending Obama's War: Responsible Military Withdrawal from Afghanistan" (Paradigm Press, 2011). He testifies this week at a hearing on women in Afghanistan before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives.
What will happen to Afghan women when the United States begins withdrawing troops later this year? Will women be thrown under the bus as soldiers head for the exits?
To find out what Afghan women think, my colleague Sarah Smiles Persinger and I authored the report Afghan Women Speak, based on more than 50 interviews in Kabul with policymakers, diplomats, military officers, and most importantly Afghan women, including female parliamentarians, activists, health and NGO workers.
The women we interviewed realize they cannot achieve progress in a militarized environment. They favor a peace process and reconciliation with the Taliban and insurgent groups. But they do not want a peace that is purchased at their expense. FULL POST
A mother and daughter from Afghanistan trying to bring change through business. CNN's Mary Snow reports.
The top American military officer defended the Department of Defense policy of encouraging female troops to wear headscarves while on duty in Afghanistan, despite criticism the practice makes "second-class warriors."
"Those female service members ... do so as a personal choice," Adm. Mike Mullen wrote to Rep. James Langevin, D-Rhode Island, last week. "They feel this gesture helps them in accomplishing their mission by serving as a sign of courtesy and respect toward the locals."
For years, some American military women have worn headscarves, similar to traditional Afghan hijabs, when interacting with local civilians.Read the full story on the Belief Blog
CNN's Phil Black reports from Afghanistan on the outrage over the government's plans to take over women's shelters.
"I had so many dreams for my life, but when I saw him, they just disappeared." Saraya spoke softly, her hunched-over body and nervously twisting hands testimony to all she says she has had to endure.
"I told my father I didn't want to marry him: 'why are you doing this to me?'" She continued: "My father said 'you are of an age to be married and this is my decision, not yours.'"
Saraya says it only took three days for her to realize she had been married off to a madman.
Emotions and turmoil she never dared publicly speak of tumble out freely - concealed, along with her face, behind a mask.
Half the mask is pale blue, the color of the "chaudari" or burka, symbolizing the oppression of women; the other half white, representing innocence.
This is Afghanistan's new revolutionary TV show called "Niqab," meaning "The Mask." FULL POST
Police in southern Afghanistan have arrested the father-in-law of a woman whose nose and ears were chopped off after she was accused of bringing shame to her family.
Authorities in Oruzgan province said Haji Sulaiman, 45, was the one who held Bibi Aisha at gunpoint and ordered five others - including her husband - to cut her. FULL POST
This is not hard to write; it's cathartic. Shooting the story though was anything but: raw emotions accumulated - anger, sorrow, revulsion, and anger again, jumbled in some subconscious store to be sifted and sorted later.
It was a story about Afghan women, their oppression and their desperation.
For a few moments, some of these oppressed voices surface, enter our conscience, before sinking back into the social morass. They are absorbed and returned to the bosom of inhumanity, disappearing without trace, beyond reach, back to the isolated hell whence they came.
Afghan society is closed to outsiders. Even to neighbors. But if you are a woman here you risk entrapment, sealed off more completely inside the home than out. FULL POST