A ground breaking new Masters program on gender and womens' studies is offered at Kabul University. Julie Noce reports.
Students in Kabul enter a university classroom for an unlikely course -- gender and womens' studies. Funded in coordination with the U.N. Development Programme, it's the first Masters degree program of it's kind in Afghanistan where women are as still regularly sidelined from political life and subject to violence in public and at home. Students hope the program can empower women and promote equality in society. We really need the program in Afghanistan, one student says, so we can make women aware of their rights. We want to tell women that you are not only made for housework. Advances for women since U.S.-led troops ousted the Taliban in 2001 have been on the rise. But promoting gender equality here has not been easy. Critics of the course say it amounts to little more than another misguided foreign intervention. A course professor says local teachers with a knowledge of Afghan culture would address the topic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR TEACHING THE GENDER AND WOMEN'S STUDIES CLASS, NASRULLAH STANIKZAI SAYING: "I think the very good point in this program, it's teaching by the Afghan colleagues, Afghan professors and according with our reality, according with our society it's very important." Eighteen female and 10 male students are enrolled in two-year course.