New Research Report on Women in Afghanistan


Since the overthrow of the Taliban by U.S.-led forces in 2001, the promotion of women’s rights in Afghanistan has generated much public debate. Some commentators have suggested that prolonged U.S. and NATO military occupation is needed to protect women’s gains. But what do Afghan women think?

“Afghan Women Speak:  Enhancing Security and Human Rights in Afghanistan,” a new report from Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, draws on more than 50 interviews conducted in Afghanistan and the U.S. The report reflects the voices of Afghan women leaders, including parliamentarians, activists, school principals, health workers, and members of the police force and army. Download report (pdf).

Report co-authors David Cortright, director of policy studies, and research associate Sarah Smiles Persinger, also interviewed U.S. State Department officials, staff members of international aid organizations, and U.S. military commanders and staff. 

While the majority of the women interviewed supported a negotiated end to the war, they also expressed concerns that their interests may be sacrificed in a peace deal, according to the authors. The report highlights the concerns of Afghan women, assesses international efforts to empower women since 2001, and analyzes the security situation in Afghanistan and its impact on women. It concludes with recommendations for Western policymakers on ways to protect women’s gains while pursuing political solutions to the conflict. 

This research was funded in part by the Dutch development agency Cordaid. Cortright and Persinger will present the report at the United Nations Forum on Security & Human Rights in Afghanistan on October 28. 

Contact: David Cortright, 574-631-8536,