Editor's note: Heather Barr is the Afghanistan Researcher for Human Rights Watch. She has lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, since 2007.
Underneath the surface of these changes, however, deep seated problems persist. Women in public life have suffered harassment, threats, and sometimes murder. Forced marriage, underage marriage, and domestic violence are widespread and too widely accepted.
About 400 women and girls are imprisoned at present for the "moral crimes" of sex outside of marriage and simply running away from home, often to flee abuse. While education is more accessible, more than half of girls still don't go to school. Every two hours an Afghan woman dies of pregnancy-related causes.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Heather Barr.