The Crisis

As of December 2022, almost 6 million Afghans have been driven out of their homes or their country by conflict, violence, and poverty. Some 800,000 were displaced internally in 2021 alone. Nearly 12 million Afghan women and girls require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is exacerbated by ongoing food insecurity, natural disasters, drought, and COVID-19.

The Women’s Refugee Commission is particularly concerned about the rights of Afghan women and girls, which are under severe threat since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, and their ability to access humanitarian services. Women and girls face gender-based discrimination and violence. Girls have been banned from secondary and higher education, and women have been forced out of jobs. Women are not allowed to participate in political or public life, and cannot move around unless they are accompanied by a male chaperone.

Our Priorities

  • Full restoration of women and girl’s rights, including their right to education, employment, movement, and participation in public life, and freedom from violence.
  • Equitable and nondiscriminatory distribution of humanitarian aid, including livelihoods, food security, gender-based violence (GBV), health, education, and peacebuilding with a gender lens.
  • Direct and flexible funding to Afghan women’s rights organizations and Afghan women leaders to continue critical functions, such as operating shelters for GBV survivors and at-risk women and girls, distributing humanitarian relief, and supporting women human rights defenders.
  • Expansion of evacuation and resettlement for Afghan women human rights defenders and other at-risk or marginalized groups, such as Hazara women and LGBTQI+ individuals. Read our recommendations on immediate actions for the Biden administration and world to take.

Take Action

If you are in the United States, contact your Congressional representative and Senators and urge them to call on President Joe Biden to take action to mobilize the international community to center gender equality and human rights in all diplomatic, development, peacebuilding, and humanitarian engagement in Afghanistan.

Our Advocacy

Advocates Demand Urgent Action to Support Afghan Women and Girls Following New Restrictions on Women’s Rights and Humanitarian Aid

December 29, 2022

The Women’s Refugee Commission and four other members of the U.S. Policy Advocates for Afghan Women’s and Girls’ Rights Working Group released a statement deploring and strongly condemning the latest attacks on women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Women’s Refugee Commission Decries Taliban Attack on Afghan Women

December 26, 2022

Gayatri Patel, speaking as WRC’s vice president of advocacy and external relations, responds in this WRC statement to what human rights advocates are calling another demonstration of the gender apartheid imposed on Afghan women: the Taliban has — in less than a week — banned women in Afghanistan from attending university and women from working in NGOs.

Futures in the Balance: Taking Action to Ensure Afghan Women’s and Girls’ Rights Under Taliban Rule

August 15, 2022

One year after the Taliban takeover of Kabul, WRC led advocacy through this policy brief on urgent priorities for US government action to fully restore women and girls’ rights and ensure response to Afghanistan’s worsening humanitarian crisis meets the needs of women, girls, and other marginalized groups.

Afghan Women’s Rights Remain on the Periphery of Talks with Taliban

January 27, 2022

WRC joins three organizations calling on the US government and its international partners to prioritize the lives, safety, and fundamental freedoms of Afghan women and girls.

Policy Brief: Lifesaving Humanitarian Response for Women and Girls in Afghanistan—An Urgent Call for US Action

December 10, 2021

Violent conflict, a devastating drought, and food insecurity affecting over half the population in Afghanistan are driving one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. This brief, developed by WRC and partner organizations, outlines recommendations for urgent US action.

Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally Co-Chair Letter on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

August 18, 2021

This letter to the Biden administration from the co-chairs of the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally details the deep concern from the co-chairs about the growing threat to the rights and safety of women and girls in Afghanistan. Gayatri Patel, WRC’s vice president for advocacy and external relations, is a co-chair of the coalition and one of the co-signers of the letter.

Menendez, Shaheen Lead Senate Colleagues in Bipartisan Letter Urging Biden Admin to Protect Afghan Women Leaders in Wake of Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

August 16, 2021

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) were joined by 44 of their Senate colleagues in urging the Biden administration to take swift, robust action to protect and support Afghan women leaders facing unparalleled danger following the Taliban’s violent sweep across Afghanistan and seizure of Kabul. WRC’s direct advocacy toward the US government urged the administration and Congress to protect Afghan women’s and girls’ rights and ensure humanitarian responses address their needs.


NPR: 51% – Episode #1703: The Women’s Refugee Commission

March 10, 2022

National Public Radio station WAMC interviewed Gayatri Patel, WRC’s vice president for advocacy and external relations, for its 51% radio show on the particular needs of women and girls in conflict and crises, including in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Stop Betraying the Women of Afghanistan

February 22, 2022

In an op-ed in Ms. Magazine, Gayatri Patel writes that Afghan women’s views, experiences, and voices must be at the center when it comes to Afghanistan’s future, if Afghanistan is to have a future.

Afghan Women’s Rights Remain on the Periphery of Talks with Taliban

January 27, 2022

Over the past six months, the Taliban has targeted and terrorized the women and girls of Afghanistan, swiftly reimposing draconian measures that limit their freedom and undermine their safety. Statement by WRC and others.

They Rejected Rescue for a Chance to Get a Fulbright and Change Afghanistan. Now, All That is in Doubt

October 10, 2021

In an article in USA Today, Gayatri Patel said it’s not clear how many at-risk Afghans rejected evacuation offers to stay in their home country.

Women’s Refugee Commission Statement at UN High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

September 14, 2021

WRC’s Stephanie Johanssen, associate director of advocacy and UN representative, provided a statement at the United Nations High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

Women’s Refugee Commission Urges US Not to Abandon Afghan Women Human Rights Defenders

August 24, 2021

WRC urged President Biden to reconsider his decision to not extend the August 31 deadline to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, highlighting the numbers of at-risk Afghans—including women activists and other human rights defenders who may need to be evacuated.

What Afghanistan’s Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis Means for Women and Girls

August 24, 2021

WRC’s Gayatri Patel, who serves as vice president, external relations and advocacy, talked with rePROs Fight Back about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the impact on women and girls.

Taliban Says It Will Be More Tolerant Toward Women. Some Fear Otherwise.

August 17, 2021

In The Washington Post, WRC’s Gayatri Patel discussed how thousands of women in Afghanistan who worked to advance women’s rights are at risk.

Taliban Image Makeover

August 17, 2021

On CNN‘s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, WRC’s Gayatri Patel discussed what is happening to women and girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover.

‘They’re Really Sitting Ducks’: Refugee Advocates Inundated with Pleas for Help from Vulnerable Afghans

August 16, 2021

In an article in USA Today, Gayatri Patel described the urgent need to protect women’s rights defenders in Afghanistan.

Women’s Refugee Commission Urges Biden Administration to Immediately Evacuate Afghan Women’s Rights Activists, Families Trapped in Afghanistan

August 15, 2021

As the Taliban prepared to take control of Afghanistan, WRC called on President Biden to send in any necessary military planes to help evacuate women’s rights activists and their families currently attempting to flee the country and Taliban persecution.