From the 19th through the 20th century, the rulers of Afghanistan consistently attempted to remove women’s restrictions in the country. Among them was King Amanullah, who ruled from 1919 to 1929, and modernized the country including the promotion of freedom for women in the public sphere.
Along with encouraging families to send their daughters to school, he promoted the unveiling of women and persuaded them to adopt a more western style of dress. In 1921, he created a law that abolished forced marriage, child marriage, bride price, and put restrictions on polygamy, a common practice among households in Afghanistan.
In 1964 women helped to draft Afghanistan’s third constitution, which gave women the right to vote and opened the doors of elected office to women. It was not unusual for men and women to casually mingle at movie theatres and on university campuses.
By 1987, there were an estimated 245,000 women working in fields ranging from construction, printing and food processing to radio and TV journalism and especially teaching, where they made up 70 percent of the workforce.
Everything changed for the worse for women when the Taliban rose to power in early 1995 and set up a radical Islamic state in Afghanistan in 1996.