Yasmeen Hassan runs the organization Equality Now and spoke about the problems represented by the Taliban. The Taliban recently took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan through a peace deal with the Pakistani government that implemented Shari'a law. (The peace deal has fallen apart as the Taliban spread farther than the deal allowed and the government began heavy fighting against the Taliban.) The takeover introduced many problems: girls were banned from attending school; many girls' schools were bombed; women were ordered veiled; the ideology was spread through compulsory attendance for boys in madrassas; and, generally, women were banned from the entire public realm. When the government was jolted out of the peace deal, the stimulus was the threat to democracy (and the current government) rather than the threat to women.
Education by itself is insufficient to protect women's rights or participation; rather, protecting women's rights is an all-or-nothing proposition. Of course, we should take what advances we can get to improve women's lives, but these gains are always vulnerable if not protected completely. For example, more women than men attain higher education in Iran, so maximum quotas for women have been proposed because women do not provide for the families the way men do. Ms. Hassan noted a study finding that the best predictor of a society's peacefulness is the extent of protection of women's rights, rather than level of democracy or Islamic identity. Constant effort is required to make protect progress.