In the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, draconian restrictions have been imposed on women and girls. The Taliban, who seized power in Kabul on August 15, 2021, have barred women from participating in public life, education, and the labor market. They have significantly restricted women’s freedom of movement and imposed traditional gender roles. Women and girls were confined to their homes during the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001 and faced severe consequences if they violated Taliban rules.
Despite warnings and concerns expressed by women activists and civil society representatives, the Taliban’s takeover proceeded swiftly, with the group consolidating their power and implementing a series of bans affecting women. The Taliban of today resembles the Taliban of the 1990s, and they have been cautious and strategic in revealing their restrictive policies to avoid antagonizing global and Afghan society.
The US government initiated talks with the Taliban in 2018, with the goal of paving the way for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The talks resulted in an agreement in February 2020, setting a timetable for the withdrawal. However, the Taliban showed no interest in negotiating directly with the Afghan government, despite preparations made by the Ministry of Peace.
The agreement between the US and the Taliban weakened the morale of the Afghan army and resulted in the Taliban’s swift advance. The political decision made by the international community effectively left the country to the Taliban, leading to a demoralized and exhausted Afghan society. The economy is in decline, with over 20 million people living below the poverty line.
The situation has caused disillusionment and disappointment among women’s rights activists and Afghan society as a whole. Many are now seeking ways to leave the country as chaos and hardship prevail. The rapid capitulation by the world community and Afghan society has further contributed to the feeling that Afghanistan has been abandoned to the Taliban.