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A New Year Without Hope for Women in Afghanistan

As we come into the New Year, many of us will have much to look forward to. Many of us will still be basking from the joys of Christmas. Many more will be looking forward to all that is to come. The elder of us will be looking forward to the heat of June and the freedom from the knitwear bought by our mothers this Christmas. Younger people will be looking forward to the adventures to come – sixth form, university, jobs and future prospects. 

As they look forward, I want to remind those fortunate enough to have these opportunities to look east, where in Afghanistan so many young women live without these hopes. Just the other week, AP News reported on a wave of young girls leaving fifth grade but unable to attend sixth. Their education will never advance while The Taliban rules. 

It’s been over two years since the Taliban took over, and for Afghans still living in Afghanistan, in particular women, life is not getting better – it’s getting worse! We see so many tragedies in the news in so many countries; Uganda, Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan. We do not forget them, we cannot forget the women left behind by the Western retreat from Afghanistan. A country The West came  and went and left in ruin (Westad, 2017, The Cold War – A World History, pg. 619). 

Afghanistan is currently ruled over by The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist organisation formed in the early 1990’s by the CIA and ISI to combat the Soviet presence. The Taliban have gone from being the force of The West to the force opposing The West. Twenty years after 9/11 led to the invasion and devastation of the Afghan region by Western Allied Forces, former President Donald Trump organised a ceasefire and an agreement which would see; an end to conflict between the US and Taliban as well as Afghan forces, a reduction of US troops, talks with the Afghan government and a promise from the Taliban to never threaten the security of the United States. These were the staples of the agreement.

This agreement proved to be nothing more than words to the former CIA guerrilla group. Within one year of, The Taliban took over the entire country which was already in severe economic decline. Their presence only furthered the worsening of the situation; 

‘ The economic situation is dire, malnutrition rates are increasing, women’s rights are being curtailed, there is continuing migration and internal displacement, and the health care system is crumbling – the already high maternal mortality rates are thought to have increased four-fold.’

-       Hakimi & Price, Chatham House, 2022

Further to this, the United States attempted to assert control over the Taliban by withdrawing economic support from the region – a move which proved entirely fruitless. The United States withdrawal, rather than improve the situation in the region, only made things worse. Under the Taliban; any promises regarding the safeguarding of women’s rights have been ignored, the organisation has maintained strong ties with Al-Qaeda and there has been mass unemployment and a housing collapse. 

Women certainty have it the worst under The Taliban who not only have restricted the right of all females but halted any attempts towards making them any more than second class citizens. Amnesty International recently denounced the Taliban as they banned women from visiting a popular national park. Though much worse than this, for those seeking to leave the country to pursue further education, The Taliban has made this illegal. Amnesty International went on record starting; 

“This preposterous decision is a flagrant violation of the right to education and freedom of movement and demonstrates the continued gender persecution against women and girls in Afghanistan.” 


We’re beginning a New Year – and we enter it fresh with new chances and opportunities. New hopes and dreams and aspirations. Dreams are important. Just as important are the people, and especially the women, of Afghanistan who have suffered so brutally under Taliban law. 

There are Afghan refugees all over the world, it is estimated by the OCHA to be  something close to about 6.3 million refugees worldwide. With the world becoming more closed off to immigrants it is important we recognise the importance of ensuring this story is not allowed to fade as so often these stories do when Western leaders grow bored of toying with the lives of those hundreds to thousands of miles away from their own border. 


As long as the plight of the Afghanistan people continues, I will continue to report on the region – as I hope others do. 

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