Afghanistan Essay

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Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been in a constant state of chaos for twenty years. The Soviets invaded in 1979 and installed a puppet regime. After they withdrew their troops in 1989, rival mujahideen (tribal) groups began to fight for the capital. By the time the Taliban came into the picture around 1994, the country had been devastated by war. Many Afghanis had fled to neighboring countries like Pakistan. An estimated 1 million lives had been lost. Now, bad conditions still persist. Afghanistan has one of the world's worst literacy rates; only three percent of women and less then twenty percent of men can read and write (Rashid, 107). A quarter of all children die before their fifth birthday. Life expectancy is only 43-44 years (107).
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At this time powerful women began to speak out about what they desired. Amanullah's queen, Suraya, and her sister Siraj ul-Banat both were publicly vocal about equality. In 1923, Ul-Banat said:

Some people are laughing at us, saying that women know only how to eat and drink...but knowledge is not man's monopoly. Women also deserve to be knowledgeable. We must on the one hand bring up children and, on the other hand, help men in their work. We must read about famous women in this world, to know that women can achieve exactly what men can achieve. (307)

Both sisters were strongly influenced by the moderate men around them. They wished to contribute to their society. They were passionate and forceful as they urged women to "attempt to acquire as much knowledge as possible in order that we may render our services to society in the manner of the women of early Islam" (Dupree, 308). Their genuine intentions however, were not completely mirrored by the government. Suraya and Siraj were women fighting for the freedom of others like them. The government consisted of powerful men fighting to keep a strong appearance.

By the 1970's, many women worked outside the home. Most were upper or middle class urbanites. In Kabul, 42% were educated and 41% were employed. Women were secretaries, diplomats, hairdressers, and factory workers. In the rural provinces, however, most of the female population did not know about

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