Say what you want about the Soviet Union, but they did get some things right ...
When the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in 1979, there was a degree of freedom for women in the nation's larger cities. But things were still difficult for women in the rural parts of the country. However, under Soviet occupation, by the late 1980s women made up over 40 percent of all the medical doctors in Afghanistan. Over 60 percent of the professors and student body at Kabul University were women too.
Then the Soviet Union began its collapse. Mikhail Gorbachev understood that Afghanistan was an imperial adventure they could no longer afford. Russian troops began leaving in 1988. With the Russian troops went most of the social advances that were made during the 1980s.
|A column of Soviet tanks leaving Afghanistan.|
When the Taliban entered the scene women became second class citizens almost over night. Under the Taliban women could be punished for appearing in public without a male escort, and were not permitted to get an education. Today, while the burka is now optional, literacy for women in Afghanistan is on the rise.
|Afghan midwives attend their graduation ceremony in 2013, in Jalalabad east of Kabul.|
Still, while there have been improvements, things are not what they were before the Taliban hit the scene. Click here for a series of pictures of what Afghanistan looked like before the Taliban came to power in 1989. The linked article is in Spanish but you'll understand how far the country was set back by the Taliban once you look at the numerous pictures of Afghanistan before the mullahs came to power.
|A Rally for Women in Afghanistan, 1980.|
|Afghan graduating class, 1960.|
Kudos to Ed for the historical "La Voz del Muro" link.