Many of the vital gains that Afghan women have achieved over the past decade were made because of the sacrifice and support of the United States and the broader NATO alliance. The United States and NATO deserve international gratitude for their role in helping to improve the lives of women in Afghanistan. But now, as the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan changes, the world must remember the women of Afghanistan.
In 2001, the world’s eyes were opened to the horrors suffered by Afghanistan’s women. Leaders from government, business and civil society around the globe, as well as private citizens, stepped forward to support these women, sending a powerful signal that progress is possible only if it includes all of a country’s citizens.
But if this progress is to last, these business and educational investments must be protected and expanded. And, every bit as important, the Afghan government cannot negotiate away women’s rights. At their gathering, NATO officials have an opportunity to communicate that aid, investment and alliances are not guaranteed if women are simply to be treated as a bargaining chip.