Voices Rising: Women Leaders in Afghanistan

The situation for many women in Afghanistan is abysmal. However, in order to understand the future of this war-affected nation, Afghan women—overwhelmingly portrayed as veiled subjects controlled by their fathers and husbands—cannot all be viewed as powerless victims. Women are moving to the forefront, despite the country’s male-dominated culture. They are parliamentarians, lawyers, athletes, businesswomen, musicians, and more than even before, they are role models for a younger generation of girls.

Since the Taliban were thrown out of power in 2001, women have taken an active part in government and civil society, returning from years spent as refugees in Pakistan or Iran, or reemerging from the hidden life they were forced to lead in their own country. Women are attaining leadership and power positions despite being harassed and threatened for going against fixed gender roles in a traditional society. They are fighting to make their voice heard, both in their professional and personal lives. While these women must deal with challenges, risks and targeted attacks, none of them is willing to give up what she has achieved.