In focus: After August – Voices of Afghan women two years after the Taliban takeover

Photo of an Afghan woman looking out her window, for the “After August” in focus package. Photo: UN Women/Habib Sayed Bidell.
Photo: UN Women/Habib Sayed Bidell.

On 15 August 2021, everything changed for women and girls in Afghanistan. First came the curbs on girls’ education and women’s right to work, then the enforcement of strict dress codes and impositions on women’s freedom of movement and access to public life. Two years after their takeover of Afghanistan, through more than 50 edicts, orders, and restrictions, the Taliban have systematically imposed a set of meticulously constructed policies of inequality that impact every part of a woman’s life, that regulate where a woman can go and how she should dress.

Since day one, the Taliban’s system of suffocation, fear and oppression has been met with fearless resilience from Afghan women and girls who continue to protest, resist, and speak up. Fighting for women’s rights is a fierce struggle everywhere in the world. But nowhere have more lives depended on it than in Afghanistan right now.

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.

In the face of the most hostile of circumstances [Afghan women] speak out against the violations, deliver lifesaving services, own and operate businesses, and run women’s organizations. Their bravery must inspire us to greater action, their example to renewed determination.”
Read the complete statement.

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous

We created “After August” based on the belief that, when injustice is the norm, silence is unjustifiable. “After August” is a digital space to document and share with the world the experiences of Afghan women as they live and resist in today’s Afghanistan. It is a counter-narrative to the Taliban’s campaign to render Afghan women invisible.

If you have ever been oppressed for standing up for your rights, told to be silent when speaking out, or attacked for living a life of your own choosing, read “After August”, share a message of solidarity, spread the word.

What we all do—or fail to do—for women and girls in Afghanistan is the ultimate test of who we are as individuals, as a global community, and what we stand for.

The collection of stories in “After August”, documenting the lives of Afghan women, is a collaboration between UN Women Afghanistan, Zan Times, Limbo, and independent storytellers. The content of these stories does not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations or affiliated organizations. Names, locations, and course of events have been changed to ensure the safety of the women featured.

Social media

Access our social media package for graphics, quotes and other shareable assets.