Future of Afghan Women beyond 2021
Future of Afghan Women beyond 2021
Many Afghans who wish to escape the country now that the Islamist militant organisation has retaken power face a harsh reality. Thousands have been evacuated, but those who have been unable to go outweigh those who have been able to. Women feel vulnerable since the organisation previously barred women from working and girls from attending school, as well as enforcing its brand of Islamic law harshly. The organisation has recently pledged to protect people’s rights and enable women to work within the context of sharia, but it’s unclear what that means in practice. Outside the airport, scenes of pandemonium have dominated news reports across the world.
Since gaining power in Afghanistan, the Taliban has tried to convince Afghans and the international community that they will protect human rights and not pursue vengeance. Members of the movement have been accused of abusing and threatening others, which has shattered trust.
The future of women’s rights unclear in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is in a holding pattern following the Taliban’s takeover. And the waiting game is excruciating for Afghan women. Repression was a characteristic of the Taliban’s reign the last time they were in power, in the late 1990 s and early 2000 s. This was particularly true for females. Women were unable to attend school, hold employment, or leave their houses without the presence of a male relative. Those who disobeyed the Taliban’s orders and their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam were subjected to floggings or beatings, which were frequently harsh. Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan, putting the Taliban’s ideology under examination.
Things like the development of women’s rights got interwoven inside the US mission there, and the conflict became about more than just terrorism. Laura Bush, the first lady, said in November 2001 that the Taliban’s withdrawal indicated that the people of Afghanistan, particularly women, were cheering. The United States is departing twenty years later, and as it carried out its objectives, those early justifications faded. During the military withdrawal, President Joe Biden stated that the US goal in Afghanistan was to defeat terrorism. He stated that the notion to deal with women’s rights throughout the world by military force is illogical.
After two decades of fighting and the still-unfolding repercussions of the US military involvement, this attitude arrives 20 years late. All of this leaves Afghan women facing a perilous future under Taliban control once more, with the issue of what role, if any, the US will play in that future.
Women’s rights as a ruse for the invasion
Women’s rights were marketed as another reason for the war in Afghanistan after 20 years of US intervention — which followed decades of foreign intervention by the Soviet Union and others — where women’s rights were presented as another justification for the war. The advances were genuine, albeit unequal and frequently precarious, and were hampered by the instability brought on by the decades-long struggle. Long before the Taliban came in Afghanistan in the 1990 s, Afghan women campaigned for their rights, and some Afghan women’s activists opposed the US invasion. Women’s rights, however, were integrated into the war rallying cry regardless of whether Afghan women wanted them, and they became a cause célèbre at times.
The battle against terrorism is equally a battle for women’s rights and dignity. Saving Afghan women from the Taliban bolstered the argument for the US to stay in the war. Even among politicians who favour the withdrawal in general, traces of such rhetoric may still be found today. The US engagement drew attention and provided money for development, most of it well-intention but not necessarily successful. During the Taliban’s control, Afghan women were unable to participate in public life. The most significant change in women’s rights occurred formally, legally, and constitutionally, as well as in how they express themselves in the formal sectors.
During the Taliban’s leadership, international aid was severely restricted, although it improved certain social, economic, and health results for women. Girls and women have access to school, however the insecurity and return of the Taliban in recent years has put it at risk. When it came to women’s rights, cities like Kabul were the most visible, as they were also the hubs of international financing and foreign troops that could defend such initiatives. Years of conflict were, in the end, one of the most significant obstacles to women’s rights in Afghanistan. When girls are evacuated by airstrikes or their schools are blown destroyed, it’s difficult to get them to attend to school. However, the Taliban’s complete return exacerbates this challenge, threatening to impede or undo the achievements made by Afghan women. And now the women of Afghanistan are forced to deal with the fallout, collateral damage in a war they have no control over.
The future that awaits Afghan Women
With the world watching, the Taliban have attempted to recast themselves as more moderate. Women would be permitted to work and attend school “in accordance with Islamic law”. Part of the waiting game is determining what “according to Islamic law” means in practice. There are already indications that the Taliban are the same people they’ve always been. In Herat, the Taliban allegedly sent female students and teachers home as they began retaking territory. According to the Guardian, a female university student in Kabul said she would have to burn all she had accomplished in her 24 years of life. Having an American University ID card or honors puts them in danger.
Others who operate in Afghanistan for charity organisations or networks are similarly unsure what will happen to their female employees and volunteers. They are concerned that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan worsens. Some said they don’t know whether or how their capacity to distribute help will be impacted, or what that means for the families who rely on it. Even if they are unable to work, women are leaving their houses to go outside. They go with a feeling of fear, not knowing what may happen or how one Taliban soldier would respond.
Many people’s lives have been put in jeopardy as a result of the Taliban’s return, including those who worked with the US military, coalition troops, foreign organisations, or the Afghan government. Ethnic and religious minorities are also at risk. Of course, women fall into all of these categories or are linked with others who do. There are also the women who have risen to positions of power in the last two decades — activists, advocates, and politicians — who dread becoming direct Taliban targets.
After two decades of war in Afghanistan, many young Afghans have never known a life without the invasion — without the worried calls home, moneygrams, and gatherings around the television to see what the newest atrocity was. The damage has been done; all they have left is hope, unity, and action. Many Afghans are enraged by the Taliban’s return and what they perceive to be the international community’s abandoning of them. If the international world abandons Afghanistan again, the Taliban will regain total control of the country, jeopardizing the accomplishments of the previous 20 years, particularly those accomplished to defend women’s rights and equality. As the Taliban advance, women and girls are asking for assistance. Protests have taken place in the streets. In a rare display of resistance, women have even picked up firearms. However, this will not be sufficient to protect women and girls.
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