Afghanistan: Women struggle against Taliban restrictions on jobs, education

A number of women said they are grappling with the severe economic and psychological hardships stemming from job deprivation and a growing reliance on male family members.

In the wake of the Taliban’s resurgence to power over two years ago, women and girls have borne the brunt of the restrictive policies, being denied even the most fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to work, pursue an education, or engage in recreational pursuits.

Fanoos Hashemi, a former provincial government employee in Jawzjan during the previous republic government, recounted her experience of being barred from her job when the Taliban assumed power in August 2021.

She managed to secure employment with a non-governmental organization (NGO), but her tenure was abruptly terminated by the Taliban after just six months.

“Regrettably, after the Taliban’s arrival, they forbade us from continuing our work. After a year of unemployment, I found work with an NGO, but after six months, they informed me that the project was terminated, citing the Taliban’s opposition to my employment,” Hashemi lamented.

Hashemi’s story is emblematic of the plight faced by countless women and girls in Afghanistan who have lost their financial autonomy since the Taliban’s resurgence. This loss has inflicted profound mental and emotional distress upon these women, who are now financially dependent on others.

Diba Anwari, a student who has been deprived of her education, articulated the repercussions of this situation.

“Since the Taliban seized control, women have been prohibited from working, and we have relinquished our financial independence. We now rely on others for financial support, and our lives are in constant upheaval,” she said.

Anisa Haidari, a former NGO employee, decried the situation, saying, “With the Taliban’s ascent to power, women and girls have been barred from employment, denied access to education, and rendered economically dependent on others, a grave injustice.”

The United Nations has reported that over the past two years, the Taliban has issued more than 60 decrees curtailing or revoking the freedom and rights of women. Previously, both the United States Department of State and the United Nations declared that they would withhold recognition of the Taliban until it demonstrates respect for women’s rights and freedoms.