Kabul [Afghanistan], October 20 (ANI): Amid the Taliban gaining control of Afghanistan, there is widespread concern that the withdrawal of US and allied forces would spell disaster for even the modest gains achieved for women and girls in Afghanistan.
For two decades, Western powers encouraged Afghan women and girls to earn degrees, join the media, and take up public and government roles, yet their hasty withdrawal left many women vulnerable, reported The Frontier Post.
The Taliban–and other groups operating in the region–have made no secret of their views on gender equality, making Afghanistan a key test for the intersection of the global “Women, Peace and Security,” and counterterrorism agendas.
Recent reports suggest that girls have been able to attend school in Kunduz Province but remain barred from classrooms throughout much of Afghanistan, with many young women destroying evidence of higher education or employment for fear of retribution from the new Taliban government, reported The Frontier Post.
This development belies the initial hopes of some international actors that the Taliban would keep their promise to respect human rights and be a kinder, more inclusive version of their earlier brutal regime.
Since taking over, the Taliban have formed a government that includes no women, yet includes many individuals currently under international sanctions, and replaced the Women’s Ministry with the “Ministry of Virtue and Vice.”
Far from promoting education for half the country’s population, the earlier iteration of this ministry served as the Taliban’s moral police enforcing a rigid dress code, forced confinements, and brutal punishments that left most women out of education, public, and political life.
Earlier last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed alarm at “promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban being broken,” and strongly appealed to the Taliban to “keep their promises to women and girls and fulfill their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.”
Already suffering low levels of literacy and development and high levels of domestic abuse and violence, women have long feared that their rights would be compromised for security considerations in Afghanistan.
As the Taliban reopened high schools for boys but left the fate of girls unclear, and banned women from taking up their jobs in government, such fears gained further traction, reported The Frontier Post.
These fears were fully realized in September when Kabul’s acting Mayor Hamdullah Nohmani announced a Taliban order telling female employees in city government to stay home and only undertake jobs that cannot be done by men.
Of the 2,930 people working for the Kabul municipality, 27 per cent are women who, hundreds of whom are out of work following the restrictions, reported The Frontier Post.
Fawzia Koofi, a politician and women’s rights activist, has had to leave Afghanistan and seek shelter in other countries. Earlier, a group of young female footballers from Afghanistan were granted visas, having left the country via Pakistan for fear of Taliban reprisal.
Shortly after the fall of Kabul, Mexico welcomed five women from Afghanistan’s robotics team, which had only earlier garnered international acclaim, reported The Frontier Post.
Aisha Khurram, who was selected as Afghanistan’s Youth Representative to the United Nations in 2019 and briefed the Security Council in December of that year, documented her heartbreaking departure from her homeland in August this year.