Women lived under the Taliban's misogynist rules from the late '90s. Their regime imposed oppressive social restrictions barring women and girls from their fundamental rights, including their right to education, work, public participation, and access to healthcare. Following the end of the Taliban regime in 2001, society recognized Afghan women's remarkable gains and their efforts to preserve and protect those gains.
Through their successful progress, women have joined the police force, have become active political members, internationally known athletes, and artists. Despite gradual improvement made by women in Afghanistan, women's rights remain a serious concern.
President Joe Biden has recently announced that he would be withdrawing the U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 2021. Many women are worried about losing their fundamental rights and freedom if the Taliban returns as part of the new government. In the interim, a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Kabul remains unresolved.
After decades of conflict, the Taliban and the Afghan government seek to negotiate a political settlement to end the war and achieve peace and stability. Women's participation during the peace negotiations is imperative to protect their human rights and allow for equal participation in society.
A settlement that neglects women's rights as human rights could abolish all the successful gains women have made in the last few years, such as their right to equal participation in society. The biggest concern for Afghan women right now is that all the rights they have won since the downfall of the Taliban regime can be revoked if women are underrepresented in negotiations over Afghanistan's future.
In light of the discussions around Afghanistan’s peace deal and the recent announcement of withdrawing all U.S military forces from Afghanistan, we recognize that it is both a time of fear and hope for the women of Afghanistan and a very critical time in history.
Apart from the day-to-day challenges of being a woman or girl in a heavily patriarchal society, women face added difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The primary concern of most women is not the virus itself but the ability to survive. Pre-existing challenges include insufficient water and sanitation facilities, food insecurity and lack of access to education or employment opportunities.
There is great concern surrounding the social changes that may occur with the detrimental impacts of Covid-19, such as adverse economic impacts forcing families to prioritize educating males rather than females. Furthermore, the inaccessibility of online learning and access to information can potentially create a digital divide between urban and rural areas.
In light of the discussions around Afghanistan's peace deal and the recent announcement of withdrawing all U.S military forces from Afghanistan, we recognize that it is both a time of fear and hope for the women of Afghanistan and a very critical time in history. The women of Afghanistan have certainly made notable gains in the last 20 years, being present on social and political levels participating as members of parliament, government ministers, advocates, and business owners.
Our goal is to use our social media platforms, both Facebook and Instagram, to amplify the voices of Afghan women as the country continues to search for a peaceful path forward. Our Afghan Women Strong community continues to grow as we connect with women from Afghanistan, learning about their many accomplishments, challenges, and their participation in social change. AWS will continue to play a vital role in ensuring that Afghan women are not underrepresented in society; we want to change that by showcasing their many achievements because mainstream media has portrayed a very different image of Afghan women over the years, and we want to change that.
AWS will continue to play a vital role in ensuring that Afghan women are not underrepresented in society; we want to change that by showcasing their many achievements because mainstream media has portrayed a very different image of Afghan women over the years, and we want to change that.
Social media has been a significant contributor to bringing women's rights issues to the broader public's attention. Social media has become a form of activism and has proven to be a powerful tool for women fighting for their human rights and equal participation in society. Following the Taliban regime in 2001, telecommunication services became more accessible in Afghanistan, contributing to noticeable social changes. Social media has played an essential role in empowering, developing, and positively influencing change in Afghanistan. We always use the hashtag #afghanwomenstrong when sharing content on Instagram; as more followers started to use this hashtag to share their stories or recognize other women, the hashtag became a tool to stand united.
Afghan women have played a prominent role in the many changes that took place post-Taliban regime. Despite the many obstacles impacting their equal participation in society, Afghan women have made valuable contributions to counter violence and build peace through their roles as government officials, artists, scientists, and athletes. On our AWS Instagram page, we have shared many profiles of Afghan women who have been an inspiration to us, such as the Afghan Girls Robotics Team, who are among the honorees of this year's Forbes Under 30 Asia.
It is important to note that four remarkable women- Habiba Sarabi, Fatima Gailani, Sharifa Zurmati Wardak and Fawzia Koofi are the only women negotiators representing the Afghan state in negotiating peace with the Taliban during the intra-Afghan peace talks. These four women have been an inspiration to many, jeopardizing their security to be the voice of girls and women in hopes to end the decades of war and safeguard women's fundamental rights in Afghanistan.