Six months ago, President Joe Biden closed the door on two decades of war in Afghanistan. In the ensuing days, and now months, Afghan women saw the doors of opportunity—hard-fought gains for their rights—slammed in their faces as the Taliban took control of the country. What began as initial terror for many Afghan women and girls trying to flee their homeland is now a frightening reality where they are blocked from their workplaces, schools, health clinics and even their homes.
While world leaders—including President Biden—pledged that withdrawal of troops and diplomatic missions would not equal an abandonment of women and girls, the ensuing failure to support them and the woefully inadequate humanitarian response have proved otherwise.
The marginalization of women is nothing new, certainly not for Afghan women. While touting its support for women’s rights in Afghanistan, the U.S. negotiated Afghanistan’s future with the all-male Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar, in 2020. Seeing no conditions for women’s rights reflected in the final agreement, Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan politician and delegate at these peace talks, wrote, “I am morally obliged to warn that peace with the Taliban cannot come at the cost of basic human rights, particularly for Afghan women.”