Human Rights Watch urges Obama to prioritize women's rights, education

Human Rights Watch warned President Obama to avoid implementing a military strategy in Afghanistan that overlooks pressing human rights issues there, especially the status of women

A day before Obama unveiled his new, primarily military-based Afghanistan plan on March 27, the organization sent a letter to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to shine a light on issues that have been ignored in past policies. "The previous administration articulated many bold aspirations, but the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda was placed high above all other goals, including human rights, the rule of law, and good governance," the letter said. In particular, the letter's authors emphasized the persistent struggle of Afghani women, reflected in low life expectancy and a female literacy rate that barely surpasses 12 percent. Additionally, the letter stressed that despite improvements in the country's education system, a majority of girls are still not enrolled in school, and those who do attend generally drop out after primary school. The Afghan education system presents "practical and surmountable" problems that can be managed, they insist, with increased efforts to promote secondary schooling for girls and gender-sensitive educational strategies..