After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, women are not simply sitting back and watching as their rights get swept away from them. No, they are fighting back.
When the Taliban previously held power in the country from 1996 to 2001, women and girls were denied the same abilities as men to get an education, travel, and work. Now that the Taliban is back in power, women fear a turn towards more oppressive conditions.
Though the Taliban now projects itself as more moderate, with a Twitter account and a commitment to guaranteeing women their rights, actions speak louder than words. In one of the Taliban’s first displays of where they stand on gender equality, women were strikingly absent from top government positions. This makes Afghanistan one of the few countries with no female representation in its government, a clear show of the second-rate status women can expect to inhabit under Taliban rule.
But, day after day, women have been taking to the streets to protest for their rights. “We want equal rights, we want women in government,” women chanted in the country’s capital, Kabul, last Wednesday. They are not willing to watch as their ability to participate in society gets diminished by those in power. They are not willing to quit working because the Taliban tells them to, or to stay indefinitely in their homes. But they are willing to risk their lives to fight the Taliban’s control over them.
Even when faced by armed Taliban fighters and gunfire, women continued to stand up against these attacks. Even though facing arrests, beatings, and potentially death, women still continue to march in the streets of Afghanistan. As one protestor told a reporter in Kabul, “People need to express their anger, men and women, they must not stay silent.”
And as another woman said, “The Taliban aren’t here for a few days. They’re here for the long run. We need to demand our rights, not just for us, but for our next generation, our children,” she said. “We know the Taliban will find us and might target us. But we don’t have a choice. We have to continue.”