Afghan women leave the country in fear of Taliban return [View all]
The threat of a curtailment of women's rights prompts many to quit before the 2014 handover
According to Selay Ghaffar, right, director of NGO Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan, young females see no future for themselves in their own country. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
A brain drain of bright young women is already taking place in Afghanistan before the 2014 handover that many fear will mean a reversal of advances in women's rights.
The lack of commitment by the Afghan government to equality and to tackling the high rates of ill-treatment of women in the home and in the workplace is raising real fears they will be at the bottom of the political agenda in the push for power after Nato forces leave the country.
Worsening security for civilians – casualties among ordinary Afghans have risen year on year for the last five years with 3,021 killed in 2011, and women are thought to be suffering disproportionately – has led to rising numbers of women and girls leaving education and the workforce and staying indoors, according to Guhramaana Kakar, a gender adviser to President Hamid Karzai.
Speaking to the Observer, Kakar said negotiations between the government and the Taliban and other insurgent groups were ignoring women's rights. A recent survey by charity ActionAid suggested 86% of Afghan women were fearful of a return to Taliban-style rule. One in five worried about the education of their daughters but 72% said their lives were better now than a decade ago.