The Dangers of Forcing Gender Equality in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Sitting cross-legged on the floor of a sparsely decorated Kabul apartment, the young, bubbly woman told me why she lies to her neighbors.

She tells them she’s a nurse when they inquire, as they always do. She leaves the house in civilian clothes and changes into her crisp uniform only when she’s on base. This Afghan woman in her 20s, who asked that her name not be used for her safety, is part of a small, brave group of women serving in Afghanistan’s security forces. If her neighbors found out, she says, they’d surely kill her.