By Sally L Kitch
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Additional resources for Contested Terrain: Reflections with Afghan Women Leaders
Contractors, peace education for Afghans, a true democracy, basic skills training and microloans for women, a more robust civil society, more unity among women, an effective Ministry for Women’s Affairs, a women’s agency in every ministry, factories where women could work with family approval, improved health care, continued support from the international community, and more coordination among NGOs. Chapter 1: Working for Women in “Postconflict” Afghanistan 27 The women’s extensive list of necessities seemed overwhelming.
Although typically prevented from keeping their wages, even rural Afghan women do work for money, which in some circumstances—as in profits from carpet weaving—may sustain a family. The need to keep girls and women working for money is often the reason that they are denied an education. Their work must finance men’s education, marriage costs, and travel for economic purposes (Moghadam 2003, 233). Thus, the kinds of leadership the conference attendees were exercising in contemporary Afghanistan did not necessarily contradict women’s legitimate place in Islam or women’s traditional family roles, nor did they inevitably eclipse the 22 Part I: Hope importance of family and community membership in women’s identities, value systems, and survival.
Furthermore, to justify the occupation, the Bush administration also tended to exaggerate progress, thereby undermining Afghan confidence. They reported in 2003, for example that 4 million children were enrolled in school in Afghanistan and 5 percent of them (335,000) were girls. 9 million children in school and at most 201,000 girls. In addition, by 2005 both tertiary enrollments and the number of female teachers in Afghanistan had not yet reached pre-Taliban levels. The administration also failed to change course when, by 2006, half of the schools the United States built had burned down.