Views Improve Sharply in Afghanistan, Though Criticisms of the U.S. Stay High

WOMEN'S RIGHTS – Another social issue in Afghanistan is the role of women. On one hand, significant majorities of Afghans support the rights of women to vote and of girls to be educated (88 percent in both cases), to hold jobs outside the home (74 percent) and to hold government offices (68 percent).

But there's more of a division on another question: Afghans divide evenly on who should make the choice to wear the burka, the traditional full-body covering worn by some Muslim women – the woman herself (47 percent) or her father or husband (50 percent). Fifty-five percent of women say the woman should decide (rising to 62 percent of urban women); but 58 percent of men say it should be up to the husband or father.

Also, support for some women's roles is weaker than the overall results suggest; just 41 percent of Afghans "strongly" support women holding jobs outside the home and 38 percent strongly support women holding government office. (Voting and educating girls get much higher strong support.) Among men, just 33 percent strongly support women holding jobs or government office; perhaps surprisingly from a Western perspective, these also win strong support from just 50 and 43 percent of women, respectively.

City living is a big factor. Among urban women, 73 and 69 percent, respectively, are strongly in favor of women holding jobs and serving in government. It's 50 and 47 percent among urban men, then declines to 43 and 36 percent among rural women – and bottoms out at 29 percent strong support, on both questions, among rural men.

Eighty percent of Afghans live in rural areas.

HURDLES AHEAD – Beyond the issues of the day, Afghanistan faces basic hurdles of poverty, infrastructure and education. Nearly four in 10 in this survey were illiterate. Fifty-six percent reported no formal schooling whatsoever; just a quarter have more than a primary school education. Among those with an occupation, nearly half are farmers, farm laborers or other unskilled workers. Forty-four percent own a work animal, but just 13 percent a refrigerator. And nearly six in 10 report monthly incomes under $100.

Beyond the public's attitudes, these basic measures say much about the road ahead: Even beyond its current strife, Afghanistan's problems clearly will not be easily solved.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/BBC/ARD poll is based on in-person interviews with a random national sample of 1,534 Afghan adults from Dec. 11-23, 2009. The results have a 3-point error margin. Field work by ACSOR, the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research in Kabul, a subsidiary of D3 Systems Inc. of Vienna, Va.

Click here for details on the survey methodology, here for charts on the results, here for photos from the field and here for a summary of all polls in ABC's ongoing "Where Things Stand" series in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Click here for PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

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