Security risks are said to be widespread in the southern Afghan Province of Kandahar. Yet the number of women working in Kandahar has risen during the past year. The provincial government employs more than 1,150 women, most of them as teachers. That is up from about 900 female teachers last year.
Kandahar is the former power base of the Taliban and its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar. The Taliban ruled Kandahar from 1994 to 2002. During that period, women were banned from working outside the home. Most girls could not attend school. This year, 500 girls will complete high school.
Mohammad Ewaz Nazari is an education official in the province. He said Kandahar has about 47,000 female students. And the numbers are rising. He described an increasing demand for jobs among both educated and uneducated women.
In addition to government jobs, women are working for private businesses. Maryam Durani operates a local radio station. She says women in Kandahar need more job opportunities. But she adds they must strengthen the gains they have already made.
A non-governmental group, the Afghan School project, has given women year long scholarships that can lead to careers. The recipients attend programs at the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies. The Institute offers training in Business Management, Information Technology, English and Communications.
Some Afghans have expressed concern that the Taliban could regain power after international forces leave Afghanistan. And they say the progress of women's rights could be lost if that happens.