Girl power

Afghanistan more receptive to increasing women’s rights

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Afghanistan's First Lady Rula Ghani. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan has expressed a willingness to increase the rights of women for the first time in history. Following the efforts of president Ashraf Ghani to improve relations with Pakistan, the Taliban have slowly become more involved in diplomatic issues and after peace talks in Qatar, they have spoken out advocating education and work for women. The president and his wife, Rula Ghani, are just as earnest in increasing women’s rights as they are in bettering Pakistani relations; his wife is “an atypically outspoken Afghan first lady” and together they have brought to light many issues that were previously not discussed. The U.K. often lends technical assistance to peace talks and lobbies for reform of the legal system, which is very skewed against women in Afghanistan. The British Ambassador, Karen Pierce, said, “even if the Taliban did that wholly cynically, it’s nevertheless a good sign.” Pierce came to Kabul the year of the fifteenth anniversary of the U.N. ruling to encourage members to increase the number of women in peacebuilding. She is one of six women with children to have made it to director general level in the U.K. Foreign Service and one of three western female ambassadors to be appointed to Afghanistan since 2001.

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