Old dilemmas or new challenges? The politics of gender and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
This article situates the politics of gender in Afghanistan in the nexus of global and local influences that shape the policy agenda of post-Taliban reconstruction. Three sets of factors that define the parameters of current efforts at securing gender justice are analysed: a troubled history of state-society relations; the profound social transformations brought about by years of prolonged conflict; and the process of institution-building under way since the Bonn Agreement in 2001. This evolving institutional framework opens up a new field of contestation between the agenda of international donor agencies, an aid-dependent government and diverse political factions, some with conservative Islamist platforms. At the grassroots, the dynamics of gendered disadvantage, the erosion of local livelihoods, the criminalization of the economy and insecurity at the hands of armed groups combine seamlessly to produce extreme forms of female vulnerability. The ways in which these contradictory influences play out in the context of a fluid process of political settlement will be decisive in determining prospects for the future. (author's)