The one group of Afghans that had the most to lose, when the NATO-plus coalition announced its rapid and complete withdrawal, were women. They were the loudest in diplomatic engagements with the West during the last two years sounding the alarm of what was to come. Today, all they warned us about has come true. The Taliban-Haqqani terrorist group has closed the door to women at schools, government offices, and private workplaces. For the extremist-minded Taliban, there is no room for women outside the home. Now the diplomats working to attempt to moderate the Taliban positions are making matters even worse for Afghan women.
UN Orders Double Standards
In a UN Development Programme email sent on October 2, the Resident Representative in Afghanistan at UNDP, Abdallah Dardari, communicated the re-opening of their Afghan offices. In this plan, the office asked all male employees to return to work on the next day. Further, the office instructed the women employees to talk to their supervisors about making arrangements to work from home. This is the international organization that says its mission is to resolve gender issues in the country. They are the ones that spend money teaching women about women’s rights, training women to work in the medical and government sectors, and even created a gender studies master’s program. They hold as an organizational value that “all UNDP projects are designed to maximise the involvement of women and ensure they have full access to training, equipment and other support.” This promise is not being upheld by their new policy to treat genders differently at a UN office.
Afghan Women Protest in the Streets
This slap in the face to Afghan women and apparent bending of the knee to the anti-women policies of the Pakistani-backed Taliban regime have not gone unnoticed by Afghan women. Although, too many journalists and human rights groups don’t seem to have noticed yet.
Most days since August, in Kabul and other locales, you will find Afghan women marching in protest with a few simple messages for the Taliban occupiers. They want to the right to work and the right to a full education. On the 26th Afghan women took to the streets to call upon the international community to do the moral thing and stand up to the Taliban to demand the rights that the West promised Afghan women that they deserved. These are not abstract ideas but rights enshrined in the United Nations itself. Every woman in Afghanistan simply wants the UN and other nations and groups to stand with them and uphold the values they so often speak about.
Women not working or going to School
Women are still being barred from going to work, in most if not all, public sector and private sector jobs. The Taliban are using a woman’s right to work and get educated as a bargaining chip against the world as they seek international recognition for stealing Afghanistan from the citizens who elected the Republic government. For some women, just being barred from work, is not the worst case. Recently many female Afghan judges had to be rescued from the country by the West to save their lives. The Taliban, with a militia of recently released prisoners, have marked many judges for death and added them to their revenge/kill lists.
While the Taliban claim they are going to return women to schools as teachers and students, the process is opaque and seems not to be making any progress. It has been over 40 days since the Taliban closed the Afghan middle and high school classrooms to women. The Taliban claim it is only until they can “create a safe and Islamic environment.” As Lina Rozbih reports, the Taliban have claimed they need to hire female teachers to reach this “Islamic environment,” yet their actions have included telling Afghan women teachers to stay home and to stop teaching.
To add to the misery of both male and female students, the Taliban have also failed to pay teachers that were protesting in Kabul recently. The teachers said it has been over three months since they received their paychecks. In a humanitarian disaster nation like Afghanistan, a loss of pay for three months can mean starvation. It is reported by Etilaatroz that one teacher has already committed suicide over this issue. Many Afghans have already started selling their household goods to raise food money. The world continues to fail all Afghans daily as an uncaring terrorist group sits in the government offices illegally. As usual all of this weighs the most on Afghan women.