President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan brought to mind an interview EarthSky did earlier this year with Malcolm Potts, who is chair of the Bixby Center for Population, Health, and Sustainability at the University of California – Berkeley. His 2009 book is titled Sex and War. It proposes that biology and reproductive rights are linked to the causes of war and terrorism in Afghanistan. In other words, Afghan women are traditionally married at a young age to much older men. Potts said he believes young men then channel their energy into war, and he said he agrees with the many studies which suggest that empowering women through increased access to education and contraceptives – plus delaying marriage – is key to 21st century peace and stability.
Hear the interview: Malcolm Potts on empowering Afghanistan’s women
Potts also said sixteen thousand women a year die in childbirth in Afghanistan. He said the need to control one’s own body should be a basic human right.
While in Afghanistan, by the way, Obama spoke of progress in the country and of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014. Meanwhile, the Daily Beast ran an excellent story this morning on Afghan women’s uncertain future.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.