Parwin is dying from cancer, her time running out. There is no radiation available, and chemotherapy might not save her. But it isn’t just her life she’s worried about—it’s the future of her daughter Fatema, who had planned to go to college to become a midwife.
If Parwin dies of breast cancer, her husband will likely pull Fatema out of school and marry her off. One less mouth to feed for their struggling family. One less mother to keep the family together. One less midwife trained.
Parwin’s story is one of thousands just like it in Afghanistan, where the cost of women dying isn’t just a medical problem that hurts families—it’s a destabilizing force that weakens the country as a whole. And with the Taliban negotiating for an ascent to power, it’s time to recognize the critical connection between women’s health and national security.
U.S. officials announced Monday that they had tentatively agreed to the early stages of a plan to withdraw all U.S. troops if the Taliban agreed to keep Afghanistan from “becoming a platform for international terrorist groups,” among other concessions, U.S. diplomat and lead negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad told the New York Times. But while there is a desperate desire for peace after decades of bloodshed, Afghans—particularly Afghan women, who are not yet part of the negotiations—worry that hard-won rights and delicate advancements will be rolled back as a consequence of a hasty U.S. exit ordered by President Donald Trump. And then there are the advancements that have yet to occur. [Continue reading…]