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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Young, Kathleen Z.

Second Advisor

Stevenson, Joan C.

Third Advisor

Hammond, Joyce D., 1950-

Fourth Advisor

Koetje, Todd A.


There are women all over the world who are unable to attend school or enter the work force because of cultural barriers. Women in Afghanistan have difficult obstacles that prevent them from seeking education. In this thesis I look at a specific cultural practice that affects female attendance in school. This thesis explores how the concept of namus, or honor, in southeast Afghanistan, encourages female seclusion from schools. Additionally, according to my research, these regions have historically low education attendance rates for women and a more definitive concept of honor. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, in rural Afghanistan, 90% of women are unable to read and write (UNAMA 2009, 8). The southeast province of Kandahar has seen several acid attacks against school girls as well, making this risk a significant variable in defining and analyzing the concept of honor.

I use historical and narrative analyses and I synthesize and evaluate data gathered from researchers to show the multitude of honor based factors that affect female schooling in Afghanistan. I use narrative analysis of newspaper accounts and case studies that focus on how culturally significant the concept of honor is for women. Additionally, I reconstruct the development of this concept and how it has affected female seclusion. Access to education for women in Afghanistan may be facilitated by a more sophisticated appreciation of why women’s education is difficult to obtain due to the cultural concept of namus. I address methods to help promote a culturally sensitive approach that will effectively improve female education attendance without stigmatizing or harming girls and young women. This thesis utilized community empowerment studies and applied anthropology by proposing means in which governments and NGO’s can more effectively hire and train female teachers who can support female-only schools and make home visits to teach literacy. Bringing the concept of namus to light and researching its importance in relation to female seclusion will help our society and Afghan locals to develop and implement healthier programs for women in Afghanistan, and possibly other parts of the world.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Women--Education--Afghanistan--Social conditions; Honor--Religious aspects--Islam; Women--Afghanistan--Social life and customs

Geographic Coverage





masters theses




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