Thanks to cultural norms that go back further than just the iron grip of the Taliban, equal rights have been out of reach for women in Afghanistan. What to us seem like inalienable rights, women there don't have access to a formal education, can't leave their home unless accompanied by a male relative, and are required to wear a burqa in public. Not to mention, domestic violence runs rampant within Afghan borders. In fact, a recent report claimed that conditions have gotten worse for female Afghans over the past year.
Now, Afghanistan's president-elect wants the Middle Eastern nation to regard gender equality as more of a priority than it ever has been before. This week, Afghanistan's Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai made a lofty promise: To bring equal rights to the nation's female citizens. During his victory speech on Monday, Ghani Ahmadzai vowed that Afghan women are pivotal in writing the nation's next chapter. "In the face of these girls I can see future Afghan leaders," He said, grasping hands with his country(wo)men.
The leader-to-be was specific about how he plans to improve the lives of Afghan women. He wants to see them taking on high level positions in the nation's government, even in the Supreme Court, a role an Afghan woman has never held before. With a past political record that includes an assassination attempt on a female member of parliament, that's an ambitious (but much needed) objective. Despite the country's past, Ghani Ahmadzai's forward thinking is probably a product of his worldly experiences—he has previously held posts at the World Bank and is well educated, with a PhD from Columbia University. His intentions may be in good faith, but the world will be watching to see whether or not this vow will play out in a productive manner.