‘Invisible, Disappeared, Erased’: The Systematic Oppression of Afghan Women and Girls Since the Taliban Takeover

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, leaving the Taliban as the de facto authorities. Since then, the Taliban has issued hundreds of repressive decrees designed to systematically oppress and marginalize Afghan women and girls, from denying them education, to restricting their movement.

Ms. sat down with Dr. Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a nonprofit organization that supports Afghan women and girls by investing in basic education, literacy and technology for education; providing grants and scholarships and other financial support; and engaging in policy advocacy to restore Afghan women and girls’ fundamental human rights and dignity.

“The Taliban’s treatment of women is a threat to women everywhere. Other groups are taking note that the Taliban is getting away with these restrictions, that it can literally strip women and girls of all rights and there’s no consequences.”

The Power of the Pen to Change the World

It’s a sunny day in Mikocheni, Tanzania. Sia Fred Towo clutches a bag of reusable sanitary pads in one hand, showcasing it to a group of women in a dusty yard with a look of seriousness and pride that rarely accompanies menstrual products. Towo is the director of Femme International, a nonprofit in East Africa, on a mission to break down global menstrual taboos. Towo is not only bringing period products to remote villages in Tanzania, she is bravely baring her own painful experiences in a borderless and ageless format: the op-ed.

Towo is one of six grassroots change leaders who are turning to the power of the pen to expose injustices and inspire change on a broad array of urgent issues—from climate change to education access. She joins courageous women from Afghanistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Peru who are writing op-eds about their personal experiences with these issues.

Taliban’s Afghanistan: A Country of Only Men

The human rights abuses of the Taliban and re-establishment of gender apartheid in Afghanistan have largely been met with silence by the international community. A trend of normalization of the regime has begun to emerge in the media and in international assessments. Recently, The Washington Post ran an article titled “Taliban vowed to change Kabul. The city may be starting to change the Taliban”, which described a Taliban enthralled with shopping, learning English, and studying abroad. A photo of Taliban enjoying a picnic accompanies the article, but neglects to mention that women are now forbidden from going to the park or anywhere else.

Taliban revels in its male-dominated society, while women languish under house arrest or in jail for daring to defy Taliban decrees. This normalization of the Taliban is devastating to the women and girls of Afghanistan, and portends danger to the rest of the world where attacks on women’s rights have intensified.

Painted Windows, Distorted Mirrors: How Banning Books ‘Sterilizes’ Curriculums

To meet the demand of a modern world, we need to be expanding our students’ perspectives and engaging them in rich dialogue, critical thinking and global perspectives. Our children need opportunities to share potent books in community with peers and to learn to discuss challenging topics. If we parents are empowered, we ought to use our power to enable our children, not to narrow their perspectives.

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida we hear echoes of George Orwell’s 1984: ‘Do you know that Florida’s school libraries get smaller every year? Don’t you see that the whole aim is to narrow the range of thought?’

Parental Lessons About Race Should Be Taught at Home in Early Childhood

“The Talk” is the conversation Black parents have with their children about race for their safety in American society. Black parents know they must have this talk with their children about the dangers of being Black in America; however, this important lesson needs to start in the early childhood years.

Children are more than ready to absorb the information in early childhood about their identity and the unique racial history that permeates American society.

The Taliban’s Weaponization of Education

The Taliban has been establishing religious schools all over Afghanistan. This cannot be a substitute for women’s education, nor a reason for the Taliban to gain international acceptance. These religious schools de-prioritize traditional subjects. By focusing on an education that closes off the outside world, Afghan students are being excluded from public life. This is unacceptable.

Compromising modern education means compromising the future of Afghanistan and the global community.

Rewriting Herstory: Proposing an AP U.S. Women’s History Course

Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln, Roosevelt, King, Kennedy and Reagan each played critical roles in the history of our country and remain household names. Yet what of Murray, Chisholm, Eastman, Stone and Stanton? These women contributed greatly to the success of America, yet remain largely unknown to most Americans, including high school students. 

We are advocating to change this. As AP history students and educators, we propose the creation of a standalone AP United States Women’s History course. The youth of America are entitled to these stories traditionally left untold: the history of 50 percent of our population, who are currently a mere sidebar of token inclusion within a generic textbook on men’s history.

2023 ‘Best of the Rest’: Our Favorite Books of the Year!

Each month, we provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups. And each year, we review our monthly Reads for the Rest of Us lists and choose our favorite books of the entire year. 

You’ve read the other “Best of” lists—now read the other one. You know, for the rest of us. So here they are, our book critic’s top 38, in alphabetical order. 

Indigenous Leader Deb Haaland Is Creating a ‘Road to Healing’ for Survivors of Indian Boarding Schools

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has traveled across the country on a “Road to Healing” tour to hear the stories of Indigenous survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and connect communities with trauma-informed support.

“I know that this process will be long and difficult,” said Haaland. “I know that this process will be painful. It won’t undo the heartbreak and loss we feel. But only by acknowledging the past can we work toward a future that we’re all proud to embrace.”