Hey World, Are You Listening? Afghan Girls And Women In Crisis Are Asking

The women of Afghanistan have the most to lose if the oppressive Taliban regime formally comes to power. These women are not weak, but here's what they want.

Tanvi Akhauri
New Update
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The girls and women of Afghanistan are hurtling towards a vacuum of rights, dignity and independence with every new day that the Taliban remains in power. A week into the new rule, chaos and disquiet hang thick in the air for Afghan people unbeknownst to the future that awaits them. Some common citizens are scrambling to leave and some, like activists and revolutionaries, are resolute in their decision to remain, fight and reclaim the homeland from terror. Millions of others wait and watch in anticipation, in hope.

In this complex web of emotions and experiences are interwoven pertinent questions: Is a war on the horizon? Will the Taliban attain government status? Does the administration intend to stand true to its promises of protection of the rights of the persecuted? Do the women of Afghanistan have security for their hard-earned educations and careers?

But this one rings the loudest: Is the global community doing enough for the most vulnerable within the country in crisis?

"Afghanistan has a 5000-year-old history. We have had women in leadership roles the entire time. By no means do Afghan women need international influence on empowerment," Mina Sharif, executive producer for shows such as Baghch-e-Simsim and Voice of Afghan Youth, tells SheThePeople in a telephonic interview.

An Afghan native who lived in Kabul for over a decade, Sharif currently resides in Canada from where she is relentlessly amplifying aid resources and information about the crisis in her home country.

No one she met in Afghanistan, she says, was ever convinced by the dialogue of foreign entities. But safety was one assurance Afghans were holding out hope on. "It was only the safety that the international community promised that allowed for Afghan girls to trust and re-enter the system; for families to allow their daughters to go back to school and work."

That very protection now seems to be stripped down to nothing.

All criticism for the United States in its disorganised, reckless manner of pulling out of Afghanistan falls short of what it actually deserves. Added to that now is the noise of G7 meets, countries' hasty evacuation programs largely for their own nationals and diplomatic commentary that is drowning out the urgent appeals of Afghan women left behind.

Disturbing reports from across the country of underage girls being demanded for marriage, women being sent back from workplaces and curbs on girl child education are surfacing. Already, it seems the extremist rule has begun pushing back on the women's rights their 'moderate' speeches promised.

"The Taliban are on their best behaviour for media attention right now and even then, we have evidence daily by the hour of them committing atrocities. The only intention I see in the Taliban using women as token representations right now is because they want aid money for their own pockets... It's tyranny," Sharif says.

The seeming bluff in the Taliban's claims of human rights protection has been called out by women, who know better than to venture out into public spaces where their faces lie blackened on shop hoardings and hijabs are compulsory. Political speaker Zarmina Kakar tells us from Afghanistan that women are rarely seen on the streets now.

Women In Afghanistan Face Bleak Future. But They Refuse To Stop Fighting

The week-long escape window after the Taliban took control on August 15 has reportedly been shuttered down now, with armed fighters manning checkpoints to the airport in Kabul, disallowing Afghans to leave the country. This has served a huge blow to fundraising efforts that had successfully coordinated evacuation flights from the capital city. Simultaneous economic trouble brews with banks closed and therefore, payment gateways, obstructed.


"I am doing anything and everything to get high-risk people out. I have personal trusted connections on-ground in Afghanistan who I was able to co-ordinate with quickly before the money was blocked," says Sharif, who is an ambassador for PARSA, an NGO whose Afghan Scouts are doing significant relief work for families displaced in the crisis. (Donate here)

Establishments like Save The Children, the UN Refugee Agency, and Women For Afghan Women working on-ground are also accepting monetary donations for material aid.

As rebuilding efforts at the grassroots continue, a league of valiant and vocal Afghan women comprising teachers, activists, artists and protestors is actively leading the resistance against a misogynistic regime. One such force, Pashtana Durrani, an educator fighting indomitably for her girls told SheThePeople that the battle is for the protection of women as equal, dignified citizens of public society with "educational, political and social rights" ensured.

Afghan women aren't weak, they aren't helpless and they definitely aren't in search of pity, voices on-ground are repetitively reiterating.

But as old wounds reopen, they are well aware of what's coming...

That their demographic would be struck hardest if a Taliban regime regains force is implied. A return to the "dark ages" - as Afghan women are unanimously putting it - would thus be inevitable and with it, the undoing of the liberation they carefully pieced together for themselves over the last two decades.


Is the global community fully comprehending the extent of the long-term disaster to befall Afghanistan? Is there concern among country heads beyond rescue operations for their own natives and few refugees? Women in Afghanistan are leading the front of confrontation, from taking up arms to voicing dissent digitally to vowing to thwart any encroachment of their rights.

From the rest of the world - can sympathetic moaning and empty reassurances ever be enough in the absence of inclusive rapid crisis action? 

"In the long run, we cannot get 38 million people out of their country. And they don't want to leave. What Afghanistan needs is support from the global community to hold those in power accountable for what they are claiming - so people have access to their own funds, can go to work, etc," Sharif says.

"The international attention span is quite short. My faith in the global community is already slim but my ultimate worry is that they will stop listening."

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