In focus: Women in Afghanistan one year after the Taliban takeover

Women in Afghanistan one year into the Taliban takeover - general women illustration. Illustrator: Anina Takeff.

One year ago, on 15 August 2021, the Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul and took control of the country.

Over the past 12 months, human rights violations against women and girls have mounted steadily. Despite initial promises that women would be allowed to exercise their rights within Sharia law—including the right to work and to study—the Taliban has systematically excluded women and girls from public life.

In focus: Women in Afghanistan one year after the Taliban takeover

Women hold no cabinet positions in the de facto administration, which has also abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs—effectively eliminating women’s right to political participation. The Taliban has also banned girls from attending school past the sixth grade and barred women from working most jobs outside the home.

Restrictions on women’s movement and bodies continue to escalate. In May, the Taliban decreed that women must cover their faces in public and instructed them to remain in their homes except in cases of necessity. Women are banned from travelling long distances without a male chaperone, and unchaperoned women are increasingly being denied access to essential services.

Sima Sami Bahous, UN Women Executive Director, briefs the Security Council meeting on women and peace and security, 21 October 2021. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

Decades of progress on gender equality and women’s rights have been wiped out in mere months. We must continue to act together, united in our insistence on guarantees of respect for the full spectrum of women’s rights.”

Read the complete statement.

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous

Stripped of their rights, under constant threat of violence, Afghan women and girls are relentlessly carrying on with their lives. For some, that means forming new civil society groups to address community needs; for others, it means re-opening their businesses and going back to work. For all, it is an act of unseen, unheard bravery.

One year after the takeover, we’re sharing stories of women in Afghanistan today, written in their own words. These mostly anonymous first-hand accounts capture the fear, anger, and profound sense of loss that pervade the daily lives of Afghan women—as well as the resilience with which they continue to live them.

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