The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organization, has released its 13th annual Afghan opinion survey entitled Afghanistan in 2017: A Survey of the Afghan People.

The survey reveals that although people in Afghanistan are more hesitant about their future and security than previous years, there are still some signs of hope and improvement in everyday life.

According to the survey, 72% of Afghans believe women should work outside the home, a percentage that is slightly lower than the 2016 figure. But more Afghan men than ever before support women’s right to vote (57%). In addition, there is a slight increase in support for gender equality with regard to access to education.

There are signs of increased access to technology, especially in urban areas. People’s access to the internet and television continues to increase. The survey found that among urban Afghans, 27% have access to the internet. People’s access to cellphones has increased within the past year. According to the survey, 62% of people now have their own mobile phones. However, women still have less access to mobile phones and the internet than their male counterparts. Compared to 78% of men who have their own mobile phones, only 46% of women own their own phones.

Despite the increased security concerns, when the survey asked women to name the greatest challenge they face in their area, 38% voiced concerns regarding illiteracy and access to education. Following education, women’s primary concerns are economic problems and domestic violence.

Afghanistan has around 8.7 million students today, an incredible increase since this survey was first implemented. According to the World Bank, about 39% of this student population is made up of women and girls.

The Asia Foundation has been conducting this survey of the Afghan people for the past 13 years. This year’s survey polled 10,012 Afghans, 50.1% of whom are men and 49.9% of whom are women, gauging their positions on issues ranging from perception of security and government services, to women’s issues and migration. Twenty percent of this information was obtained in urban areas and 80% from rural households. Participants represented a multitude of ethnic groups from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

Media Sources: Feminist Majority Foundation 1/10/17, The Asia Foundation 12/7/16, 11/17.

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