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Feminist News


November-24-15

Rising Support for Women's Education in Afghanistan

A survey of the Afghan people by the Asia Foundation for 2015 found that 74% of Afghans support women's access to higher education. According to the report, women are also gaining more confidence in reporting domestic violence and are more aware of the justice system. The report revealed that "Afghan women are increasingly aware of their rights and aware of institutions to contact in a domestic conflict rural women are more likely than urban to turn to an organization that assists them if they have a family problem."

The report adds that "on the positive side, 2015 was a year of wins for women in Afghan politics: the cabinet now includes four female ministers and the government appointed two new female provincial governors."

In a traditional and conservative country like Afghanistan where men frequently decide for women and give women orders about what to do and who to cast their vote for, more women now know that they should vote for themselves. The Afghan people's survey of 2015 shows the courage of women to speak up for themselves and to express their views on voting for the person they deem better rather than being told by their male family member. According to the survey, 52% of women respondents and 48% of men said women should decide and vote for themselves. Although this figure has decreased from 58% for women and 54% for men in 2014 (an Afghan election year), there is an optimism that women are capable to make their ways and to not give up to the circumstances they are facing.

Women have also been making strides in the workforce. A higher percentage of Afghans reported the positive contribution of women to the household income. The number of Afghans has steadily increased from 13.6% in 2009 to 22.6% in 2015. The number of women contributing to the household income ranges from almost 65% in the Central parts of the country to 4.8% in other parts.

Although the survey shows progress in some areas, it has also highlighted some negative issues. For instance, the survey reports that the Afghan optimism about the overall direction of the country declined to the lowest point in a decade. 37% of respondents think the country is headed in the right direction, down from 55% in 2014. However, the analysis of the report also states that "it is a time of historic transition in Afghanistan, and the new government is inevitably grappling with simultaneous security, political, and economic challenges."

The report somehow justifies the low mood and adds, "Afghans are particularly concerned about security, and the proportion who fears for their personal safety is at the highest point in the past decade."

Unemployment is another problem highlighted throughout the report. Young Afghans have also been protesting in major cities demanding job opportunities. However, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is aware of the problem and has met with a group of young Afghans in his office last week. He spoke of the projects that will provide job opportunities to the young Afghans.

The Asia Foundation has been conducting the survey of the Afghan people for the past 11 years. This year's survey polled 9,586 Afghans, 49.4% of which were female respondents. The margin of error for the survey was +/-1.6%. The 939 expert Afghan male and female interviewers conducted face-to-face interviews in all of 34 provinces, representing 14 ethnic groups, including insecure and physically challenging environments. The total respondents of the survey consisted of 18% urban households and 82% rural households, which almost reflects the geographic composition of Afghanistan.

Media Resources: The Asia Foundation, A Survey of the Afghan People Report 11/17/15