The Stream

How is life for Afghan women under Taliban rule?

On Tuesday, March 22 at 19:30 GMT:
Women’s rights have eroded in Afghanistan in the seven months since the Taliban took power, despite promises by the leadership to uphold them. The group has banned Afghan women from most paid employment, hindered women’s free movement, shut down and abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and silenced female journalists.

Access to education has been especially hampered, leaving millions of girls and women with few opportunities to achieve their dreams and boost household incomes. Less than one-third of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have allowed girls’ schools to reopen, and secondary classes, due to start this week, face strict conditions. Taliban officials say new women students will not be allowed out of the country without a male chaperone.

Women are fighting back. Since last August, a growing network of women have organised protests demanding the right to work and go to school. In Herat province, a speech by a young student demanding her education went viral, while teacher unions pledged mass public protests outside government offices if girls were barred. Officials relented and schools reopened, but girls were not allowed to take their end-of-year exams.

In a tweet published on March 8 – International Women’s Day – the Taliban vowed to defend women’s rights under Sharia, saying, “We protect and defend the rights of our Afghan women, God willing.” They have also repeatedly told international observers that they respect women’s rights and will ensure access to education and work.

Women’s rights activists say a new UN mandate focused on gender inclusion falls short of the international action needed to truly hold the Taliban accountable.

In this episode we’ll look at what the Taliban’s restrictions are having on women’s day-to-day lives and future prospects in Afghanistan.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Pashtana Durrani, @BarakPashtana | @LEARNAFg
Director, LEARN Afghanistan,

Storai Ahmadi, @WomenforWomen
Program Coordinator, Women for Women International

Zarifa Ghafari
Human Rights Activist & Economist
Former Mayor, Maidan Shahr