June 24, 2013
As the United States approaches its 2014 deadline for military withdrawal from Afghanistan, one often overshadowed aspect of the conflict is the hard-won progress made by previously marginalized segments of the Afghan population, particularly women, girls, and young people.
Afghanistan has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world – many of whom have known only war. The median age of the population is 15.6 years old, the median age of marriage is 18, and half of mothers surveyed during a country-wide mortality survey had their first child when they were teenagers.
But “while more than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population are under 25 years of age, young people’s voices are rarely heard,” said Maiwand Rahyab, Counterpart International’s deputy director of Afghanistan.
“Let’s not be naïve about the current reality,” Rahyab said at the Wilson Center. “Afghan society is conservative and hierarchical,” making it difficult for young people to contribute meaningfully to policymaking and government reform. But over the last decade, there have been improvements in schooling, health, and opportunities for young people, which he and other panelists described during a special half-day event on June 24, “Afghanistan Beyond the Headlines: Women, Youth, and the War.”
PDF (8 Pages): NATO ACT CFC The Youth Bulge in Afghanistan (Oct 2011, to be updated soon)