But now, a leading female member of the Afghan parliament says, those hard-won gains are retreating.
"After 2001, I call it like a golden opportunity for woman in the first five -- three, four, five -- five years," Fawzia Koofi, one of 68 female members of the parliament, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
"However, like you had women in the parliament, you have several movements of women. You have girls going back to school. You have female doctors in the hospitals. You have female teachers who are going to school. With all this, I think the past three years, the situation of women is getting worse."
The problem, she said, lies in political attitudes.
"Unfortunately, there are certain elements within the government, outside the government, nowadays mainly within the government, who don't believe in women's progress, because they think, if women becomes stronger, they will lose the power," Koofi said.
"I think there is need for a strong political government and a civil government that actually is committed to equal rights and opportunities and to the rule of law," she said. "Everybody, according to the Constitution, is equal before the law."