Women’s rights in Afghanistan have been a matter of struggle over generations and regimes. The oppression that women and girls in Afghan have experienced since August 2021 is unmatched in terms of generational impact. 

This challenge is examined in the first Gender Country Profile on Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021 developed by UN Women with financial support from the European Union. 

The profile delves into Afghanistan’s gender equality infrastructure over the past 40 years, revealing how decades of progress have been dismantled by over 70 decrees , statements and practices introduced by the Taliban  in less than three years. These measures have critically rolled back gender equality and impacted progress, limiting opportunities across all sectors of development.

The suppression of women’s right has contributed to devastating consequences that will Have long-term generational impacts. The Gender Profile highlights the severe effects of bans on education noting that 1.1 million girls are out of school with over 100,000 women been barred from the University. This educational deprivation is correlated with a 50% increase in the risk of maternal mortality.

Afghan women also face critical restrictions in influencing decisions that affect their lives. With no female leaders in the Taliban’s caretaker administration, the UN Women data shows that only 1percent of women feel they have any influence in their communities. 

Additionally, social isolation is rampant, Afghan women are restricted in interacting regularly with other women with 18% reporting that they have not met with other women outside their immediate family in the past three preceding months. Social isolation has led women into despair with 8% of survey respondents knowing at least one girl or woman who has attempted suicide since August, 2021. 

The Gender Country Profile highlights that despite the Taliban’s oppressive regime, Afghan women continue to serve their communities and advocate for their rights. Nearly three years after the Taliban takeover, the resolve of Afghan women grows stronger as their status and situations worsen. 

Alison Davidian, UN Women Special Representative in Afghanistan shared, “Afghan women demonstrate extraordinary resilience. In the face of incredible challenges, women continue to run organizations and businesses and deliver services. We must invest in their resilience. Afghanistan must remain high on the international agenda,” 

The Gender Country Profile provides multiple recommendations for supporting Afghan women and girls: 

Allocate funding that is flexible over the long term to support women’s civil society organizations, ensuring there’s sustained and adaptable financial support.

Direct Funding for gender equality: Ensure that atleast 30 percent of funding to Afghanistan is channeled to initiatives specifically aimed at advancing gender equality, women’s rights and avoiding support for projects that overlook such issues. 

Avoid normalizing discriminatory practices: Implement measures to prevent actions that could unintentionally support or normalize the Taliban’s discriminatory policies, norms, and values.

Ensure that funding allocated to gender equality initiatives doesn’t endorse discriminatory practices by implementing measures to prevent the support for or acceptance of the Taliban’s discriminatory policies, norms, and values.

Integrate human rights in all actions, particularly women’s rights as a fundamental aspect across humanitarian actions and interventions addressing essential basic human needs. 

The plight of Afghan women remains an urgent and critical issue, demanding  international attention and support to safeguard their rights and well-being.