Afghanistan women leaders – business own…

Afghanistan women leaders – business owners, politicians, educators, school teachers, service providers – unanimously do not want NATO forces to pull out of the country.

While Afghans wait to hear whether President Obama will indeed decide to send more troops to their soil, one group is watching especially closely: the nation’s women leaders, who worry about what comes next—and whether they will be able to hold on to the gains they have made since the international community flooded Afghanistan with dollars and development programs seven years ago. While they are not certain that additional boots on the ground are the answer to the grave problems facing their nation, these women say they are eager to see the Americans renew – rather than retreat from – their commitment to Afghanistan.

Even while some political activists and pundits in Washington and London sound the call for a full troop withdrawal, women here argue that a complete pullback would only exacerbate the battery of formidable problems plaguing their struggling nation. Though nearly all say the international community could have done a far better job in securing a teetering Afghanistan, where practically every citizen can now rattle off a personal tale of corruption, few women say they believe foreign forces should go.

In a series of conversations with a dozen women leaders spanning a range of sectors, from health care to business to politics, some of whom rarely speak to journalists, the consensus was that existing troops must stay for now—if only because things would be far worse were they to leave. Insecurity would rise, the Taliban would gain power, and women and girls would immediately lose ground.