The Islamic world
Where do Muslims live (all over the world, including Britain; still a fast-growing religion, about half live east of Pakistan, around a fifth in Arab countries)? Do all Muslims hold the same beliefs (there are differences, as between Church of England and Roman Catholics; the Sunnis, the majority at nearly a billion, believe that the first four caliphs are the true heirs to Mohammad; the Shi'ites believe his son-in-law Ali, father of the martyred Hussein, is the successor)? Why are these Afghan women wearing veils (clothes concealing women's faces or body, so they do not arouse passion in men, common throughout history; veiling in Muslim society has waxed and waned in different periods and different countries)?
Role of women
In some Muslim and other societies women have a different status. why do you think this is so (various explanations, including religious and ideological beliefs about the role of women; male dominance, keeping power and control; historical roots when men hunted while women stayed at home)? What has happened in the past 100 years in Britain (women got the vote in 1928, entered all the professions , although women teachers had to resign on marriage until 1944; Margaret Thatcher became frst woman prime minister in 1979, but no female American president yet, though watch out for Hillary Clinton in 2004)?
Find Afghanistan on the map. Do you know any countries that border it (China and Pakistan)? Is it a rich or a poor country (poor, very low per capita income, subsistence farming)? Only one third of children attend primary school, so what will the consequences be (few people qualify for the professions, large scale illiteracy, limited opportunities)?
Writing Imagine you are a world traveller. Describe two different tribes that you visit, one in which men are the hunters and women stay at home and the other where it is the other way round. What happens, and which society do you prefer?
Should women go out to work, or stay at home to raise a family?
For In Britain girls do better than boys at school, so it would be unfair to deny them job opportunities. Women play a vital part in many fields, especially care (children, sick, elderly), teaching, hospitality (restaurants, hotels). They now win top jobs in many fields.
Against Raising the next generation is an important job. Women are the natural carers of the young, while men are the natural hunters. Women offer stability and continuity at important stages of a child's development; childminders and nursery teachers cannot replace this.
Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University