Liberated in the Hindu Kush

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Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women have gained the rights to vote, work, and pursue an education. They're running for president, they've claimed seats in parliament, and they've even competed in the Olympics. But international troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and the Taliban threatens to step into the vacuum they'll leave behind. Already, writes Amie Ferris-Rotman in an FP dispatch from Kabul, many of the women who've come so far -- journalists, politicians, and rights workers, among others -- have begun to retreat from public life out of fear for their safety. "Once the Americans go we'll have to sit at home again, bored," First Lieutenant Zakiya Mohammadi tells Ferris-Rotman.

The "last decade produced a league of knowledgeable, determined young women for whom the Taliban's return is anathema," Ferris-Rotman writes. Here's a look at women across post-Taliban Afghanistan -- from the campaign trail to the basketball court to the operating room.

Above, Afghan girls practice Taekwondo moves during a martial arts class in Herat in January 2013.


A student midwife conducts a gynecological exam at the Bamiyan Provincial Hospital in September 2009.


Afghan women exercise at a gym in Kabul in October 2011.



Young Afghan women get ready for a boxing training session in Kabul in May 2010.


A journalist works in a radio station dedicated to covering women's issues in Herat in October 2012.


Parliamentary candidate Neema Soratgar Formuly campaigns at a women's center in Kabul in August 2005.


Female soldiers in the Afghan National Army attend a graduation ceremony in Kabul in October 2010.


An Afghan girl practices gymnastics in Kabul in September 2011.


Afghan fashion designer Shahr Banu Zeerak directs models before a fashion show in Kabul in February 2013.


A tailor works at a shop in Herat in December 2012.


An Afghan National Police cadet cocks her Kalashnikov rifle during target practice in Kabul in November 2012.


Members of the Afghan Women's Olympic basketball team (in red) compete against International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Embassy representatives in Kabul in March 2012.


An Afghan member of parliament drops her vote into a ballot box during voting on President Hamid Karzai's cabinet nominees in Kabul in January 2010.


Activists with Afghan Young Women for Change protest violence against women in Kabul in April 2012.


Afghan women walk in a park designated for women in Kabul in October 2011.


Malalai Badahari sits with a colleague at counternarcotics headquarters in Kabul in April 2005. Badahari was one of only several women chosen to be part of an elite counternarcotics team.


Afghan girls attend class at a camp for the displaced in Kabul in October 2011.


Afghan presidential candidate Frozan Fana campaigns in Kabul in August 2009.


Afghan medical staff treat a patient at a hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif in November 2012.

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