The Women of Afghanistan

The Women of Afghanistan
Laura Bush: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: One to two weeks


Since she has been First Lady, Laura Bush has traveled far and spent considerable time trying to advance the causes that are dear to her.  Since 2002, she has been involved with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, traveling to Afghanistan twice, once as a Council partner.  Her particular interest currently is in a Teacher Training Institute in Kabul, but her overarching concern is the well-being of women and children in a country torn by religious, military, and cultural conflict.


Students will study the traditional role of women in Afghanistan, their experiences under the rule of the Taliban, and their struggle to provide a better life for themselves, their families, and their country in the years since 2001.  After researching the past and current status of women in Afghanistan, students will organize and mount a Poster Session showcasing their findings as part of a Women of Afghanistan Day.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; maps of Afghanistan and surrounding countries; art materials; PowerPoint availability; large sheets of tag board; advertising materials.


1.  To introduce the lesson, ask students how familiar they are with the geography and recent history of Afghanistan, and with the Muslim religion.  Correct any misconceptions students have, and offer them a brief overview of the country, its war-torn history, and, in general the involvement of the United States in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.
2.  Tell the students that, as a class, they will be mounting a “Women of Afghanistan” Day in their school.  (This event might be confined in the classroom, or it might involve other teachers and students in the school—this depends on issues like teacher-interest, time, resources, etc.)

3.  Then, using the print and web resources listed below, as well as any others that students might find, assign groups of students to do the following:

  • Research the history of Afghanistan
  • Research the “place” of women in traditional Afghan society
  • Research the “place” of women in Islam
  • Research the history of the Taliban
  • Research the history of the takeover by the Taliban in 1996
  • Research the lives of women under the Taliban
  • Research the lives of women since the fall of the Taliban
  • Research the achievements as well as the struggles of Afghan women today

4.  This research should be shared among students and the teacher in a series of conversations about what they are finding.  As they participate in such conversations, students should be thinking about creative ways to share their information and conclusions with others in the context of a “Women of Afghanistan” Day in their school.  The primary medium for the day should be large posters that tell the story of women in Afghanistan, but PowerPoint presentations, video, essays, poetry, or other forms of expression can also be used.
5.The lesson culminates in the staging of a “Women of Afghanistan” Day, an event that enables the students who have done this research to become “experts” on what is happening to women in Afghanistan.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be extended in several ways: 1) if there are Afghan or Afghan-American women in the community, invite them to speak with the students about their lives and this project; 2) have students assemble print materials about Afghanistan and women’s lives there to share with other students and teachers; 3) have students follow up by collecting Internet and newspaper news about Afghanistan and its women, keeping an on-going bulletin board on the subject.

Sources & Resources:


Armstrong, Sally.  Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003.
Delloye, Isabelle.  Women of Afghanistan.  St. Paul, MN: Ruminator Books Press, 2003.
Skaine, Rosemarie. The Women of Afghanistan Under the Taliban. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2001.


Background on Afghanistan

Women in Islam

History of the Taliban

Women in Afghanistan--Historical Abuses of Women's (Human) Rights

The Taliban and Afghan Women--Background

Restrictions on Afghan Women Under the Taliban

Radio Address on Afghan Women by Laura Bush, November 17, 2001

Mrs. Bush Highlights Women's Achievements in Afghanistan, March 30, 2005

Laura Bush Praises Afghan Women

U.S.-Afghan Women's Council

Mrs. Bush and the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council

U.S. Commitment to Women in Afghanistan

The Plight of Afghan Women

More Resources on Afghan Women

Laura Bush, Women, and Realities of Afghanistan--An Opposite View


This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.