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Afghan Women Making Progress

Shokria Kohistani is an Afghan journalist. Under the Taleban regime, she was unable to work. Today she writes for the Kabul Times newspaper on a wide range of social and political issues. She has already seen change in Afghanistan but wants to see even more. "There are just not enough women journalists," she says.

Her colleague, Shafiqa Habibi, agrees. Ms. Habibi founded the Woman Journalists' Center, a branch of the Afghan National Journalists' Union. The center opened in March 2005. "Women need to strive to change society's attitudes about women and their rights," she said.

Afghanistan’s leadership is working to help the many Afghan women who continue to face discrimination in employment, education, and public services.

According to the U.S. State Department's latest human rights report, violence against Afghan women continues, including beatings, rapes, forced marriages, and honor killings. "Girls are still being married off to pay for the crimes of others. They are forced to marry at a young age," said Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Karzai said Afghanistan has made progress towards protecting the rights of women since the overthrow of the Taleban regime in 2001. But, he says, much more needs to be done.

Among those working for change in Afghanistan are women members of the Afghan parliament. Malalai Joya is the youngest member of parliament. She is well known in Afghanistan for her outspoken criticism of Afghan drug lords, Taleban extremists, and what she considers the slow pace of reforms. "I speak the words that many Afghans are afraid to say in public," says Ms. Joya. "I say to myself, 'Joya, move beyond your fears; remember that your people have voted you in office to speak on their behalf'."

President George W. Bush says the U.S. supports Afghanistan on the road to democracy:

"Our commitment is firm. Our desire is to see this country flourish and set a great example not only to the neighborhood but around the world."

Mr. Bush says as "democracy takes hold" in Afghanistan, it will "cause others to demand their freedom."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.