ROBERTO SCHMIDT via Getty Images
Since 2006, Canada alone has pumped more than $180 million into education in Afghanistan, according to the Canadian Foreign Affairs project browser. Thousands of schools have been rebuilt or rehabilitated by western nations. Afghan government statistics show more than -- up from just 5000 in 2001. So why is it that, despite this decade of massive investment, the literacy rate for women is still only 22 per cent according to UNICEF? It's the same problem we've seen so many other places: failing to realize that building a school is not the same thing as providing an education.
Now our combat role in Afghanistan is finished, yet honour killings, death by stoning and imprisoning pregnant rape victims seem more the normal than aberrations. The question raised again is whether the mission has been worthwhile, considering the barbaric cultural mores of Afghanistan?
It's been referred to as "an unlikely weapon in the war:" a joyous fragrance at the beauty counter made from organic essential oils that help farmers in Afghanistan get off of the illegal poppy crop that accounts for 90 per cent of the world's heroin supply.
What happens now that a weary world is pulling up its military stakes in Afghanistan? Some worry that the gains women have made will be traded for a so-called peace with the fundamentalists. Don't believe it -- the women are poised to yank this primitive place into the 21st century. They are the reformers and they won't go home again.