In its statement to the world, the Norwegian Nobel Committee honored women warriors battling for peace and said it hoped the Peace Prize would help to ”realise the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.”
Now comes a test of the world's resolve to achieve that potential.
On the way into war in 2001, U.S. leaders spoke often of the plight of Afghan women, who were banned from work and education under the Taliban. President George W. Bush said that “a central goal of the terrorists is the brutal oppression of women, and not only the women of Afghanistan.” And then-Senator Hillary Clinton wrote that “the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan was like an early warning signal of the kind of terrorism that culminated in the attacks of September 11. Similarly, the proper treatment of women in post-Taliban Afghanistan can be a harbinger of a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future for that war-torn nation.”
After a decade of wrenching loss and a trillion dollars in public expense, the focus has shifted to a peace deal with the Taliban. Women are rarely mentioned as President Obama's administration hunts for a respectable way out of the country's longest-ever war. Secretary Clinton has vowed to Afghan women that “we will not abandon you,” but with her announced 2013 departure imminent, women leaders have worried that their rights could be negotiated away with public hand-wringing but scant opposition from the international community.