Afghanistan has seen positive political and socioeconomic changes in recent years, but many of its women, men, and children are still living in abject poverty. The country is ranked 181 out of 182 on the 2009 United Nations' Development Index, followed only by Niger, based on Afghanistan’s extremely low standard of living, poor life expectancy at birth, low adult literacy rate, and poor school enrolment ratios.
Today, education, health, and economic opportunities for Afghan women and girls are scarce. Although the Taliban is no longer in control, its six-year reign and the country’s history of war and oppression of women are a difficult legacy. Women continue to be restricted in their mobility and their ability to earn a living. Women-headed households struggle to survive with little governmental support. Afghan widows must continually depend on the charity of family members or otherwise face begging or prostitution. They remain trapped in dependence and poverty.
Poverty and illiteracy pose enormous threats to the global community. Peoples without education and resources are vulnerable to social manipulation and terrorist control. The situation is a crisis on many levels.
“The prevailing factor that influences conflict is poverty. Poor countries are more likely to be in conflict than wealthier countries. Countries of per capita incomes below $2,000 have been in conflict, on average, one year out of five since 1980. Above $4,000 a year, it is one year in thirty‐three.”
—Joseph Siegle, The Democracy Advantage: