Afghan Women Grow, Prosper When Left Alone

by Joshua Foust on 1/25/2007 · 1 comment

I am, of course, ecstatic to see that more and more women are working and owning businesses in the stable bits of Afghanistan. Mazar-i-Sharif has been more stable than most towns, in part because of its relative isolation from trouble spots in Pakistan. This should be good evidence that if NATO can get the manpower to calm the security situation, and if something more productive than blind eradication can be levied against the drug lords, the country has a good chance of being functional and healthy.

In May of 2006, while noting the admirable resilience of Afghani women, I found a story about how nearly 3/4 of the micro-loans in Afghanistan have gone to women starting up their own businesses. The push for economic freedom must accompany the push for political independence—after all, what good does voting do if you’re forbidden or unable to leave your home? The economic and social benefit of having women fully engaged in public life in indisputable among political scientists and economists, even though both professions struggled with the idea at the tail end of the 19th century (the French in particular, who were pioneers in female employment, worried at great length about the damage to traditional family structures and the social fabric).

Regardless, it is a bright spot of encouragement in an otherwise struggling place.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

threeoutside January 26, 2007 at 8:04 am

I’ve been concerned about the status of women in Afghanistan for years. Recently I found a reliable conduit to contribute money in small amounts to help educate Afghani girls, so I’ve been contributing to that. But I also read about how teachers in the hinterlands are being targeted by death squads determined to kill the education of females. I’m thinking maybe there should be a charity that buys teachers flak jackets and body guards?

I’m glad I found this web site recently. I’m interested in Central Asia and it’s a great source of information!

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