The issue no one will talk about: bringing the Afghanistan war into public discourse
In many ways, the war in Afghanistan has become a forgotten one. Over 2,000 U.S service people have died in combat there and this week 25 people were killed in a suicide bombing, yet presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn’t mention war once in his convention speech last week and war was not a major theme in President Obama's convention speech either.
Georgia WAND teamed up with National WAND and WiLL to bring this issue back into the spotlight, featuring scholar, organizer, veteran, author and Director of Policy at the Kroc Institute, Mr. David Cortright. Based on his report Afghan Women Speak: Enhancing Security and Human Rights in Afghanistan, Mr. Cortright outlined the many social and political gains of Afghan women, but spoke about the work that still needs to be done and how we should do it.
Afghan women now have full equality under the law, including full voting rights. In fact women make up 25% of the Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) in the National Assembly of Afghanistan. That's a higher percentage than women in the United State Congress.
Gains are coming in the realm of education as well. In 2002, 900,000 students attended primary school. They were all boys. Today, 8.2 million students are enrolled and 39% of them are girls. In addition, 170,000 teachers have been trained over the last ten years, 50,000 were women, helping ensure lasting jobs and income for women.
And in terms of healthcare, both child and maternal mortality rates are decreasing, likely due to the increasing amount of women being trained as workers and midwives.
Most of the funding that has made these modest but encouraging gains possible comes from US AID, the World Bank, the United Nations, Japan and from some European states. Historically, this money for social development tends to dry up as occupying troops leave the country.
So where do we go from here?
Mr. Cortright emphasized that in this 'war on terror', military force is not the answer. According to Rand research corporation, the best way to ensure the demise of terrorist groups is through the political process and policing. The worst way, statistically speaking, is through military force.
So, as military force declines, Mr. Cortright outlined several steps to ensuring peace in Afghanistan.
- Foreign military disengagement
- Political reconciliation and power sharing with the Afghanistan diplomatic contacts in neighboring states
- Interim protection (peace) forces
- Sustained large-scale support for development and human rights
To read Mr. Cortrigh's full report and to see what he has to say about other security and foreign policy issues, visit www.davidcortright.net