Over the past 20 years, women have played a crucial role in building a new Afghanistan. They were members of the judiciary, public sector workers and artists who believed there was no limit to what they could achieve. Many say that all changed when the Taliban returned to power last August. Today, they seem to have disappeared from the country’s life, Euronews reports.
For most teenage girls in Afghanistan, it has been a year since they set foot in a classroom. And there is no sign of when or if they will ever be allowed to return. “My goal was to one day become the president or vice president of Afghanistan,” said a young woman to the international correspondent of Euronews.
The humanitarian organization “Save the Children” interviewed nearly 1,700 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 17 in seven provinces. The survey, conducted in May and June, found that more than 45% of girls are out of school compared to 20% of boys.
On August 15, 2021, Islamic fundamentalists captured the capital Kabul without a fight after a lightning offensive across Afghanistan against government troops confused by the withdrawal of US and NATO forces in the country.
Almost the entire population was thrown into poverty and millions left unable to feed their families when the world cut off funding for Afghanistan. The Taliban restricted women’s work, encouraged them to stay at home, and issued dress codes. Outside, they are allowed to wear only a full-body garment, preferably a burqa.
“Since they came, life has lost its meaning” –
sighs Ogai Amail, a resident of Kabul. – They took everything from us, they even entered our personal space.”
Hundreds of female members of the Afghan judiciary say they are now being targeted. They are persecuted by those who once judged them – many of whom were members of the Taliban and have now been released from the group.
During Afghanistan’s first rule in the 1990s, women had virtually no rights – they could not work or study or leave the house without a male relative. The international community is demanding that the Taliban open schools for all girls, and the US and EU have set up plans to pay salaries directly to teachers in Afghanistan, keeping the sector running without providing funds to the Taliban. The new power assured that it would not return to the heavy hand of the past.
In practice, however, a number of public positions are inaccessible to women today, they are forbidden to travel alone outside the city where they live. In March, just before the start of the school year, the Taliban’s Ministry of Education announced that all would be allowed to return. But on the day of the reopening, March 23, that decision was suddenly reversed. A peaceful protest by dozens of women who marched through the streets of Kabul on Sunday chanting “Food, work and freedom” was again attacked and stopped by Taliban forces, as happened in previous attempts at protests.
“The Taliban have not created an inclusive political system and thus denied the aspirations of the Afghan people,” said EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Masralli.