Afghanistan today is in many ways a more progressive, pluralistic society than it has been for decades. Despite this progress, Afghans today are questioning why more has not been achieved, especially given the large volumes of aid allocated to the country. Afghanistan in 2001 represented an extraordinarily low base for development efforts. Many gains, whether in access to health care, vaccine coverage or the number of girls in school, have not necessarily reached the most marginalized and hard-to-reach communities, and some are no better off than they were in 2001.
The disproportionate lack of access to health care for women and girls is one of many glaring and pervasive inequities in Afghanistan. Figures that are cited on access to primary health care can be particularly misleading. Donors and the GIRoA have demonstrated the progress in the past decade by citing that over 85 percent of the Afghan population now has access to primary health care. In reality, given the distances that many people in remote areas must travel for health care, access is likely to be more constrained and less equitable. A recent UNICEF report argues that only 52 percent of the rural population has access to a health facility within one hour walking distance.
In 10 years primary school access rates have jumped from 1 million to 7 million. A decade ago not a single formal girls’ school was functioning; now over 2.5 million girls are in school.