Success despite Injustice: Social Benefit from the Afghan Woman's Resilience

By Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach | Harvard International Review, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Success despite Injustice: Social Benefit from the Afghan Woman's Resilience


Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach, Harvard International Review


The world often views Afghan women and girls as passive victims to be pitied, oppressed by religion, traditional Afghan culture, and the Taliban until the United States and their international allies liberated them after the invasion in 2001. This is incorrect on many counts Afghan women were denied their basic rights under the Taliban, but for decades they, similar to other women across the world, fought for and received their right to become educated and to participate in society. Afghan women are survivors who have served as active agents in civil society and the economy for decades. Their history is intertwined with their country's reform agenda; as tar back as the 19th century women's issues were a central component of Afghanistan's push for modernization.

The international community has invested billions in security and nation-building in Afghanistan since 2001, including an estimated US$57 billion in international aid. In 2010 alone, Afghanistan received approximately US$15.7 billion in international aid--amounting to over 90 percent of Afghanistan's total public spending. At the launch of the turn invasion, Afghan women sat front and center in the global spotlight. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, along with a slew of administration officials and US government leaders from across party lines, offered televised speeches, congressional legislation, and public commitments announcing their desire to boost women's rights in the region, citing the connections among women's rights, development, economic growth, and stability. Today, however, as the United States and its allies seek to end the war in Afghanistan, women are rarely mentioned and almost never invoked by policymakers worldwide. Moreover, as talk of reconciliation with the Taliban is increasingly seen as the only viable path to ending American's longest-ever war, Afghan civil society leaders fear that women's rights will be negotiated away in the attempt to craft a workable exit from the country.

Background: Women Before the Taliban

Reforms supporting women's rights began in Afghanistan at the end of the nineteenth century. During his reign from 1880 to 1901, Emir Abdur Rahman Khan allowed women to inherit property (in accordance with Islamic tenets), raised the age of marriage, and gave women the ability' to get a divorce--under certain circumstances. He opposed polygamy and encouraged girls' education. Much of this reform agenda did not extend outside the urban confines of Kabul, but it did mark the first significant attempt by a national ruler to improve the legal status or women.

From 1919 tol929, then-Emir of Afghanistan and grandson of Abdur Rahman Khan, Anianullah Khan, supported women's rights and spoke against mandatory veiling and polygamy. He is famously quoted as saying, "Religion does not require women to veil their hands, feet, and faces or enjoin any special type of veil. Tribal custom must not impose itself on the free will of the individual." Anianullah Khan wanted to rapidly modernize Afghanistan. He advocated for equal educational opportunities for girls and boys, and he defended the freedom of the Afghan press. He also established Afghanistan's first constitution in 1923, which guaranteed Afghans their civil rights for the first time, endowing them with "personal liberty." Similar to Abdur Rahman Khan's wife, Amanullah Khan's wife - Queen Suraya - campaigned for women's involvement in Afghanistan's nation-building. Additionally, Khan's sister, Kobra, founded Anjuman-e-Himayat (Organization for Women's Protection) so that women could speak out against discrimination. These reforms provoked backlash from conservative elements within Afghanistan and the civil unrest that followed Amanullah Khan's rule stifled farther attempts at reform.

The push for reform did not resurface until the 1950s when Prime Minister Daud Khan (who served from 1953 to 1963) campaigned against compulsory veiling and advocated for women's rights. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Success despite Injustice: Social Benefit from the Afghan Woman's Resilience
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.