Large numbers of Afghans turned out for a historic election on Saturday, despite terrible weather and continued threats of violence from the Taliban, CNN reports.
While it’s an achievement in itself to get people to ignore death threats and go vote — 75% said they wanted to despite the threats — the reason to be hopeful is in seeing so many women at the polls.
Afghanistan in the past century was actually quite liberal on womens’ rights. Not long after the U.S. allowed women to vote in 1920, Afghan women received that same right.And in 1960, the Afghan constitution provided for equality for women,accordingto the U.S. State Department.
But it was the rise of the Taliban in the ’90s that changed all that. While much of Afghanistan was oppressed under strict religious law and denied human rights, the Taliban’s treatment of women was especially abhorrent.
So to see photos of women lined up to vote in large numbers — hopeful to have a say in their country’s direction — is truly inspiring, and sheds a glimmer of hope that Afghanistan’s future may be able to embrace its past freedoms, long before it was overtaken by Taliban oppression.
The country’s future is far from certain, of course, but Saturday’s election can at least provide some hope.
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