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Afghan women

July 26, 2009

Janine di Giovanni writes in the Guardian (in the Life & style section – why!!) of the lives of Afghan women and the effects of the proposed family planning law:

A few days after the Taliban were toppled in 2001 I was in Kabul. The city was jubilant and full of hope for the future, and I remember talking to some laughing teenage girls in the street. One was excited because she could now go back to school. Another sang terrible disco songs and showed me dance steps she had been practising for five years in secret. A third debated whether to take off her burka. “Is it safe enough yet?” she asked me. “For five years, I lived inside this prison.”

Eight years later I returned, but the Afghanistan I found was far from jubilant. Despite the money poured into reconstruction and development, it is one of the five poorest countries in the world. There is 40% unemployment – nearly 80% in some parts of the country. A third of children under five are malnourished. Life expectancy is 43 – and it is one of only three countries in the world where women die earlier than men…  

Roll of honour of Afghan women contributing to this article:
Soraya Sobhrang, a human rights activist
Seema Ghani, a poet, management consultant, and runs her own childrens’ charity
Meena Sherzoy, business developer
Batool Mohammadi, expectant mother
Habiba Sarabi, Governor of Bamiyan
Jamila Barekzai, Police Officer
Khatol Mohammedzai, Army General
Aziza Momman, who ran girls schools during the time of the Taliban
Fahima Barati, who runs a school for dressmaking
Katrin Fakiri
Meena Sherzoy, who runs her own business
Hasina Syed Jouvenal, managing a fistful of different enterprises (including her latest, trying to import tomato hot-houses to be run by a women-only farm)

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