About the Author: Saba Ghori serves as South and Central Asia Specialist and Violence Against Women Advisor for the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, and covers the countries of South and Central Asia, including Afghanistan.
Understandably, much of the discussion about Afghanistan’s future focuses on security and military issues – on the surge, and on the international community and the Afghan military working together to defeat the Taliban. These issues are critically important. But the United States also has a civilian strategy in place that focuses on economic and social development, good governance, rule of law, and human rights. Afghan women are central to each of these goals.
Investing in women is one of the most powerful forces we have for international development. Increasing Afghan women’s participation in the agricultural sector and the workforce – and, crucially, giving them the education, training, and protection from violence that they need in order to participate in the economic and political life of their country – doubles the human capital available to Afghanistan. It boosts family incomes, decreasing the incentives for participation in illicit activities, and diminishing the power of Taliban financial inducements to their husbands and sons.
For all these reasons, Ambassador Verveer traveled to the Hague last week to address a conference sponsored by the Dutch NGO “Gender Concerns International,” which has been working to address women’s role in peace-building and their inclusion at all levels of society. You can watch her deliver her remarks here.