Women and girls face the risk of being stripped of their basic rights, confining them at home, and under the constant guardianship of men.
Following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban swiftly took over the country in just a few days. The extremist group even gained control of the country's capital for the first time in over two decades. The mujahedeen, funded by the US to fight against the Soviets, ruled Afghanistan by a harsh interpretation of the Quran which included brutal public punishments, including floggings, amputations, and mass executions, as per The New York Times. Women and girls were at the receiving end of the strict regulations that stripped them of their basic rights, confining them at home and under the constant guardianship of men.
Please spare a thought for the people women and girls of Afghanistan. A tragedy unfolds in front of our eyes.— Phumzile Mlambo (@phumzileunwomen) August 15, 2021
The US intervened again to drive the Taliban away from power, following the 9/11 attacks which were carried out by Al-Qaida from Afghanistan, being sheltered by the Taliban. Afghanistan was heavily militarized till the US troops were withdrawn. Afghans are now about to live through another resurgence of the stifling rule under the Taliban. Thousands of Afghans have now resorted to fleeing their country to escape the Taliban rule. But among those left behind, it is the women and young girls whose lives will now be affected drastically. The country has been set back by 20 years and women have to retreat to the shadows again to survive.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s longtime spokesman, held a news conference to address these concerns. The Associated Press reported that Mujahid promised the Taliban would honor women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law, this time around. He did not offer further elaboration. Women have also been encouraged to go back to work and girls to return to school. They have, however, been handing out Islamic headscarves at the door. But most Afghans are skeptical of these reassurances especially since residents have reported how armed men have been going door to door to find out who worked with the previous government and security forces. There have also been instances of the Taliban asking women to go back home and not return to their jobs.
We watch in complete shock as Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates. Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect refugees and civilians.— Malala (@Malala) August 15, 2021
But this is just the beginning of what will inevitably become a full-fledged humanitarian crisis. The people of Afghanistan can use all the support they can get and here are a few ways in which you can help.
1. Donate to organizations doing work on the ground.
There are organizations putting in their efforts to protect those in danger by providing them access to shelter, medical assistance, and food.
-Women for Afghan Women (WAW) - This is a grassroots level civil society organization "dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and New York." They are working towards helping Afghan women and girls "exercise their rights to pursue their individual potential to self-determination." You can donate to them here. They are already supporting thousands of Afghan women and families.
- UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) - As an agency under the United Nations, UNHCR is on the ground to provide lifesaving care and protection to families in need of help. You can donate to UNHCR to scale up their supplies to help people currently trapped inside Afghanistan, as well as refugees forced to flee to neighboring countries.
- Visions for Children - This is a non-profit based in Hamburg, Germany, that focuses on improving learning conditions and educational quality at schools in areas of conflict and war zones. They are currently raising funds for emergency supplies to Afghanistan to meet their basic needs. You can learn more about their efforts and donate here.
These are dark and difficult hours but our team is still confident that given our history of working with community and religious leaders across the spectrum, of engaging men as well as women, that we will be able to continue to serve our participants safely.2/6— Women for Women Intl (@WomenforWomen) August 15, 2021
2. Signing petitions
Petitions that are specifically demanding the rights of women and girls to be protected can be signed to add pressure on politicians and lawmakers to extend their support. There are also petitions to help open safe, legal pathways of migration to ensure the safety of Afghan refugees. Here is a template you can use to mail or call your local representative.
These are a few petitions you can sign:
3. Support Afghani women's work
Brave Afghani women took to the streets of Kabul, holding up signs asking for their rights to live in a fair and just society. Common women, as well as prominent figures, are at risk at the moment. Women's Regional Network is a "network of women civil society leaders working together to advance women’s rights and regional peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India." They are seeking funds to protect the women in Afghanistan. You can donate to them here.
Rukhshana Media, an independent outlet committed to spotlighting Afghan women’s voices and stories also needs help to support its journalists. You can donate to them here.
Meanwhile, you can also continue to amplify the issues on social media and help raise awareness. This can also help increase the pressure on the government as well.