One of the go to arguments in favour of the Afghan war is the status of women under the Taliban. During the Taliban’s stint in power, education for women was banned, schools teaching young girls were burned, and social justice in regards gender (never the Middle East’s strongpoint) plummeted to catastrophic levels. Women were subservient, removed from public life.
Things have improved for women in Afghanistan. It’s hardly a gender equal paradise, but they can vote, educate, be educated and as of right now, can join the Afghani Armed Forces.
This is a truly enormous step. With the significant exception of Israel, how many Middle Eastern nations can claim to have women in their warrior ranks? It’s shame that in the furor over Wikileaks, this vital piece of news coming out of Afghanistan will be largely ignored. It’s only 29 brave soldiers in training so far, but get them into the fight and more will follow. It’s unlikely they will ever see a combat role (Rome wasn’t built in a day, people) but they’ll bring skills into vital areas like logistics.
It’s even more significant in light of recent declarations by Mullah Omar, one of the leaders of the Taliban. He recently ordered any women aiding the coalition forces or Afghan government to be targeted. Omar is one of the hardcore, those would see Afghanistan return to the time when men were in charge and women were nothing.
Omar and his cronies may be about to learn a harsh lesson. That oppression is harder to accomplish when the targets can shoot back.