On December 5, 2013, The Asia Foundation will release findings from its annual public opinion poll in Afghanistan, Afghanistan in 2013: A Survey of the Afghan People. Read more here.
WOMEN'S FRAGILE GAINS AT RISK
Exposing traditional religious leaders to progressive scholars and perspectives
Our resident office in Kabul conducts the most comprehensive annual public opinion poll in the country, where we view our role as working on underlying conditions for the emergence of a more secure, peaceful Afghanistan. The most recent findings revealed a hopeful sign for improving women's gains here, which are fragile and at risk as the 2014 security transition nears. Confidence in religious and traditional leaders remains high at 74 percent, and religious leaders rank the highest in serving the interests of Afghan society. Given their level of credibility, religious leaders can effectively move public opinion on women's rights and expand the space for women's empowerment.
Last year, we organized exposure visits for 142 imams and traditional leaders from 22 of the country's 34 provinces to other countries with large Muslim populations, including India, Malaysia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. These visits with progressive scholars and activists are helping traditional leaders broaden their perspectives and instill a greater sense of tolerance. Upon their return, some Afghan participants are taking the initiative to establish research centers, women's madrassas, and even a new university, the National University established in Kabul in 2012.