Dug Their Heels In

“One war ended, but the battle to find a rightful place for Afghan women has started,” said Monesa Mubarez, one of the many Afghan women who dug their heels in and held to their rights tight as the Taliban government reclaim rule over Afghanistan.

When the Western armed forces came to the Islamic state two decades ago, women across the country won their freedoms, which also led them to secure a place in the workforce—an ambition the previous generation only dreamed of under the Taliban rule.

But now that the aggressors are back in reign, thousands of Afghan women were stripped from their hard-earned positions and reverted to their strictly conservative practices. Even secondary schools for girls were shut down, along with the established Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the women working in the government were forced to resign.

“… we will raise our voice against every justice until the last breath,” Mubarez said, who brave arrest and possible assaults from Taliban members if it meant for her to keep fighting for her rights… their rights.

But as the Western troops left Kabul, closing the door to the twenty-year Afghanistan War, and moved on… these demonstrations could only go so far. Because let’s face it, without the Western-backed forces, these acts of resistance would be futile against the hardline Islamic Taliban movement.

Running up to the first anniversary of the Taliban’s resumption to power, Reuters reported how these women would arrange private gatherings as acts of defiance to discuss their rights, exchange experiences, and encourage people to join the cause. In other words, an indoor rally—and this kind of meetups are being repeated across the country, said UN Women in Afghanistan representative Alison Davidian.

(Image source: Ali Khara/REUTERS)

“For many women across the world, walking outside the front door of your home is an ordinary part of life,” she told Reuters. “For many Afghan women, it is extraordinary. It is an act of defiance.”

Unlike Kabul, though, women living in more conservative regions can definitely not do such demonstrations and, in fact, can not even set foot outside their homes (for at least 78 km away) without a male chaperone.