Watch part two
March 8 is International Women's Day.
The roles that women play in society can reveal the complexities of a culture or country, most noticeably as it modernises.
Few places exemplify the contradictions that accompany progress better than Afghanistan, a country where women occupy a third of all seats in the national parliament in Kabul, yet can still be denied access to education, employment and legal independence in other parts of the country.
Many had hoped that such inconsistencies would lessen after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. But today, those who dare to publicly oppose traditional customs put their lives at risk.
Samah El-Shahat is joined by Shukria Barakzai, a member of the Afghanistan National Assembly and by Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, a former prime minister of Afghanistan, to discuss the realities of life for women in Afghanistan.
Across the world, women are increasingly holding positions of power and seemingly granted more legal rights than in the past, but women are still not paid equally to men and many still find themselves more vulnerable to violence, abuse and discrimination.
Are celebrations on International Women's Day justified although many women are forced to live without access to basic needs such as healthcare and education?
Samah El Shahat is joined by Linda Bellos, a feminist and community activist, by Gary Barker from the International Center for Research on Women in Washington DC, and by Satish Singh from the Indian organisation Men's Action for Stopping Violence against Women.
This episode of People & Power aired from Saturday, March 7, 2009.