‘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 Ms. Q&A with Nasrin Sotoudeh: The Iranian Activist on Global Solidarity, Her Time in Prison and Being an Optimist  

Nasrin Sotoudeh is an Iranian human rights lawyer and activist who has consistently fought for the rights of women, children, religious minorities and others under persecution in Iran. Over the years, Sotoudeh has spent much of her time in prison, having been arrested for protesting Iran’s mandatory hijab law and resisting authoritarian rule. While in custody in 2022, Sotoudeh wrote to Ms. editors detailing the plight of women in Iran and called for global solidarity around women’s rights.  Ms. executive editor Kathy Spillar spoke with Nasrin and her husband Reza Khandan last month.

“The world has gone through darker days. … We’ve made our way forward through those horrific and dark events and times, and so, why not again? As long as I’m alive, I’m just naturally an optimist.”

The Ms. Q&A With Mary Robinson, Ireland’s First-Ever Woman President

When Mary Robinson made history as Ireland’s first woman president, she declared, “I was elected by the women of Ireland, who, instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.” This quote encapsulates a woman who was set on disrupting the system to pursue fair representation.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, RepresentWomen had the esteemed privilege of interviewing Mary Robinson for Ms. In this interview, we explore the depths of her humanitarian work, her political journey, and the heartwarming tradition she initiated with her grandchildren, who hold a special place in her heart. 

This OB-GYN Was Terrified For Her Patients Who Needed Abortions. Then She Became One.

Dr. Austin Dennard is an OB-GYN in Dallas. After Texas banned abortions after six weeks’ gestation (before many women even know they’re pregnant), Dennard’s patients began coming to her with concerns. Then, in 2022, she became a patient who needed an abortion. Now, she is fighting back against the state that’s become a hell on earth for pregnant women—and the extreme Republicans working to make it a reality for every state in the nation.

“There are patients who will choose to continue a pregnancy with anencephaly, and that is okay. But in the state of Texas, there is no choice but to continue. … It didn’t matter in my state that we found this diagnosis early. It did not matter that this baby was never going to survive outside my womb. It didn’t matter that I was a doctor. It didn’t matter that I was a sixth-generation Texan.”

‘Astonishing Little Feet’: Maegan Houang Reimagines the Story of the First Known Chinese Woman in the U.S.

Nearly two centuries ago, Afong Moy became the first documented Chinese woman to arrive in the U.S. Brought by American merchants for the purposes of advertising their Chinese import business, she was exhibited across the U.S., for white audiences to marvel at her language, clothes and “little feet.”

Afong Moy is the subject of a new short film from director Maegan Houang. Houang sat down with Ms. to talk about why her story matters, and the role of historical fiction in revealing the dark truths of humanity. 

Fighting Fatphobia and Embracing ‘Unshrinking’: The Ms. Q&A With Kate Manne

We live in a society obsessed with fatness. Or, perhaps more accurately, obsessed with fighting it.  Fatness has been rendered a disease, and we are inundated with “cures,” which particularly haunt women’s bodies—and their wallets.

Questioning the devotion to anti-fatness usually prompts a “well, being fat is unhealthy!” But according to Kate Manne, feminist philosopher and author of the recently released Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia, the connection between weight and health is not so clear cut. What is clear, Manne brilliantly reveals, is that fatphobia, not fatness, is the problem.

The Ms. Q&A: Dr. Jen Gunter on Combatting Misinformation and Democratizing Knowledge on Women’s Health

Dr. Jen Gunter’s third book, BLOOD: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation, is an accessible look at the multiple ways that the patriarchal control of medicine has allowed misinformation about reproduction, sexuality and anatomy to flourish.

Ms. sat down with Gunter to discuss the book and how she hopes to “democratize knowledge and make a difference in people’s lives.”

A Story of the Unhoused: The Ms. Q&A with Author Roxanne Chester

How should you talk about unhoused people with children? Read them This is My Bag.

The children’s picture book looks at the day-to-day realities of diverse people—children and elderly, able-bodied and disabled and diverse in race—who are forced to carry their valuables with them because they lack a permanent residence.

The author, Roxanne Chester, spoke to Ms. reporter Eleanor J. Bader in late December, several weeks after the book was released.

The Ms. Q&A: Award-Winning Playwright Catherine Filloux Takes on Femicide, Trauma, War, Immigration and More

Catherine Filloux’s writing delves into the many ways that human rights are abrogated by gender-based, racial and economic violence. Filloux spoke to Ms. reporter Eleanor J. Bader about her work.

“As a writer, whether of a play or of an opera, I want to focus on the largely male dictators who allow trauma and genocide to exist and flourish. I can’t let this go.”

Reimagining Child Welfare: The Ms. Q&A with Dorothy Roberts, Host of Podcast ‘Torn Apart’

Professor Dorothy Roberts worked for decades to try to fix the child welfare system—but she came to the understanding that the system could not be fixed: It had to be abolished. Ms. sat down with her to discuss how abolishing the child welfare system is an issue of reproductive justice for women and their families, and the importance of educating about the injustices of the child welfare system.

All episodes of Torn Apart are available here or wherever you get your podcasts.