The road ahead - GulfToday

The road ahead

Afghan Taliban

Representational image.

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has sounded the death knell for women, whose lives had changed significantly in the last 20 years (‘I can’t live under them, I would rather be dead’, Aug. 22, Gulf Today).

It was a sea change for women in the country in the last decade or so, a period when the workforce rose by more than 50 per cent. School enrollment shot up from nine lakh student at the beginning on last decade to 9.5 million last year, this is according to USAID.

But with the Taliban back in power, the future will be anything but. The new government at its first press briefing a few days ago kept reassuring that it will respect women’s right to work, study and participate in the government. But it had a rider. And that is why it is hard to believe that they will respect their words.

The lightning advances by the Taliban and the ultimate capture of Kabul in record time may have taken western forces by surprise. But America’s decision to pull out without putting an effective mechanism in place to safeguard the Afghans, especially the women and children, smacks of double standards. In fact the peace talks between the Taliban and the US hardly had any notable female representation nor was there an indepth policy deliberation on how to safeguard women, after their departure.

It is not that women in Afghanistan need US mentoring to excel. If they came out of the closet it is because the Taliban was kept at bay. Kept at bay, by the US and other forces. Now the tide has changed. The US and west should instead of showering pity on those left behind to face the onslaught, make room to accommodate more refugees until some semblance of honourable living returns to Afghanistan.

Jabeen Shaikh
By email

Related articles