ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gray skies hang over hang over Kabul as winter fast approaches, approaches, the change in season marking the end of the year and the end of America's war in Afghanistan.
By the 31st of December, all U.S. and NATO troops will have withdrawn, except except for a residual force of less than 10,000, who will stay on to advise and assist assist until the end of 2016. A decision that has many people concerned, concerned, especially especially the women of Afghanistan.
FAWZIA KOOFI, AFGHAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: I think if the war continued to expand, expand, women and girls might be the main victim. victim. So, not only that they will be deprived deprived of the basic rights, but also they will be victim victim in a way of Taliban interpretation interpretation of Islam.
ANNA COREN: Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, women's rights have dramatically dramatically improved. Millions of girls go to school. Thousands attend university and the country has female members of parliament. But despite despite these gains, women and girls face human rights violations violations on a daily basis, where domestic domestic and sexual violence is an epidemic. epidemic. But there are positive signs Afghan society is refusing refusing to go back go back to the days of the Taliban. Last month, a mullah was sentenced sentenced to 20 years for raping a 10 year old girl.
MANIZHA NADERI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN: The mullah read from the Quran and said, he is a single guy that he should be given what the Quran says, a 100 lashes and let let him marry her and the judge said, no, she is a child, she was raped, "you raped her, you're getting 20 years in prison, you're not getting what the Quran says." That was the most significant significant part for me.
ANNA COREN: The election of President Ashraf Ghani has also brought hope. While he is a strong supporter of women's rights, it's his wife, Rule, who is breaking with tradition, tradition, appearing appearing by her husband's side in public and giving interviews.
MANIZHA NADERI: I'm very happy that his wife is so vocal and wants to be involved in involved in the aspects of Afghan life. I think it's a very positive step. We, Afghan women need a role model like that, so visible.
ANNA COREN: Already it seems seems women are feeling empowered, empowered, like this young filmmaker, driving a car, a taboo taboo in Afghanistan, when normally only men are behind behind the wheel.
SAHRAA KARIMI, FOUNDER, FOUNDER, KAPILA MULTIMEDIA: For women, living in Afghanistan, not easy, but I believe that if women like me, we start to be part of the big changes, so it will be good, may be for next generation.
ANNA COREN: Shared hopes and aspirations of so many Afghan women desperate desperate for a brighter future.
Anna Coren, CNN.