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The Boston Globe

World

John Kerry praises progress of Afghan women

Puts spotlight on fragile gains

KABUL — Accepting a challenge from the captain of the Afghan women’s soccer team, Secretary of State John F. ­Kerry playfully hit a header Tuesday while hearing the success stories of a handful of ­female Afghan entrepreneurs.

‘‘Hey,’’ Kerry called when he hit his shot and directed the ball to Zahra Mahmoodi, a founding member of the women’s team in 2006. She told him that girls were not allowed to play soccer during the rule of the Taliban, the radical Islamist movement that held power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001. Now they play regular matches, but only before select crowds, mostly of family members, because women playing sports outdoors is still taboo in much of the country.

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