A US withdrawal from Afghanistan also raises concerns about what will happen to the fragile social reforms that have been made since the Taliban fell, particularly those that have improved the lives of women. The Monitor reported that some 2.4 million girls are now enrolled in school, compared to a mere 5,000 during the Taliban's reign, and that women are now able to enter politics and get jobs outside the home.
But many worry that there has been a creeping return to old biases, the Monitor notes. Karzai recently backed a government-backed religious council's statement that women are not equal to men and should not mix with them in public. (Karzai later said the council was not limiting women, but rather enforcing Islamic law.) And The New York Times reported last month that similar concerns are being raised about increased, invasive searches of women visiting Afghan prisons to see relatives.
“The situation of women in Afghanistan today is precarious. There has been progress around women’s education, women’s access to medical care, women’s ability to travel and to work. That’s all good, but the question is [how] we preserve that and can we improve upon it?” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said at a press conference.