When you look at the whole of human history, it wasn't that long ago that women in the West won rights as autonomous individuals.

Birth control, for instance, wasn't legal in Canada until 1967.

Yet we naively assume that we can give deeply conservative, tribal Afghanistan a democratic, gender-balanced makeover in a few years.

The truth is it could take decades for Afghanistan to build a functioning state and even longer for it to resemble anything like western-style democracy.

For a change, the latest headlines from this impoverished country are not about the deaths of more soldiers but about a setback for women.

No nation...

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