Afghanistan: 5 areas of concern after the US leaves

The withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan will have profound, direct effects on the country's security, economy, and society.  Here are five areas that are likely to see an impact.

Social reforms

Hossein Fatemi/AP/File
An Afghan woman holds a pamphlet saying "according the 22nd article of the national constitution, any kind of discrimination between Afghans is forbidden, all Afghan men and woman have equal rights" during a march on March. 7, 2011, at Kabul University.

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.

5 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.