After the attacks of 9-11 the world began to take an immense interest in the lives of Muslims around the world. Very often the focus was on their lack of rights – their lack of access to medical treatment, education, and transportation. In Afghanistan, where Don and Sally Goodrich of the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation established a coed school, women’s rights are being challenged. As International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said, “Women and girls in Afghanistan continue to face enormous challenges, and we recognize that there is still a lot to do.” And as Don Goodrich mentioned at his lecture this past Monday, if women are so limited in their rights, we have to look to the men to grant them more.
I found that statement absolutely chilling. I have always been fully aware of just how oppressed these women are, but the reminder that they have absolutely no control over the course of their lives always manages to astound me. He spoke of the main way to change this for the women is to educate them, from education they can gain power, obtain jobs, and prove that they are just as capable.
But that is entirely one sided. There is no way the bias and misconceptions can be entirely dispelled unless the men are educated as well. They need to be raised to think of women as equals because this superiority complex starts early on, and once it is ingrained it is impossible to erase. It is about changing the existing collective mentality of an entire region – one that has become so intertwined with their sharia that undoing what has been done will be an incredibly long process.