18 years of U.S. in Afghanistan: From gender apartheid to equal rights, Afghan women won’t go back
This weekend marks the 18th anniversary of the United States led invasion to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. During that time Afghan women have gone from having no rights under the Taliban system of gender apartheid to having equal rights under the new constitution and achieving economic and political gains. Today those gains are threatened by sham negotiations between the Trump administration and the Taliban, which do not include the Afghan government and Afghan women, two groups needed to resolve the conflict.
Despite erroneous press accounts, the Taliban today controls only 3 percent of the Afghan population. “In those regions, [the Taliban] have issued draconian regulations that especially limit women’s access to health care and education and restrict women from working outside the home,” said Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation, which publishes Ms. Magazine. Her full statement is here.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has played a leading role since the late 1990’s in supporting Afghan women as they struggled to gain equal rights.
Today, women in Afghanistan have the right to vote and hold elective office, and of the 9 million children who go to K-12 school, 40 percent of them are girls. These are just some of the gains that women have achieved as they have increased their numbers within the new Afghanistan government. Afghan women are doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, judges, ambassadors, cabinet members and 28 percent of the members of the parliament.
Afghan people, despite constant attacks by the Taliban, have also conducted both local and national elections. On September 28th, Afghanistan held its fourth presidential election. The results are still not known.
“All through the negotiations, the Taliban have killed thousands of people to try to increase their leverage at the bargaining table. In August and the first week of September alone, the Taliban and their hit-and-run suicide bombings have killed over 639 people—and this is a conservative estimate,” according to Smeal.
Afghan women are defiant. “Millions of women are refusing publicly and vehemently return to the oppressive Taliban rule. Using [the social media tags] #AfghanWomenWillNotGoBack and #MyRedLine, women are explicit about the gains they refuse to abandon,” writes Dr. Nadia Hashimi, an Afghan-American pediatrician, in the Summer issue of Ms. Magazine.
Ms. magazine has been consistently covering the fight for Afghan women’s rights and amplifying the voices of women on the frontlines fighting for their equality. Here is a link to some of the major pieces we’ve published in the last two decades and a link to the comprehensive archives.
Eleanor Smeal is available for interviews over the weekend and all week in the Feminist Majority Foundation office in Arlington, Virginia. 703-522-2214
For interviews with any of the Ms. magazine writers contact Katherine Spillar at the Ms. office in California, [email protected] 310-556-2500.