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No One Hears Our Voices

In interviews, Afghan women and women’s rights organizations describe their experiences under Taliban rule and set out their hopes for the future.

In their own words, Afghan women call for women’s rights, inclusion in public life, urgent economic relief, and for the international community to step up in solidarity with them.   

Between December 2021 and February 2022, Women for Women International conducted phone surveys and interviews with current and former participants of our programs across Afghanistan and Afghan women’s rights activists and organizations continuing their work within Afghanistan.  

The objective of these conversations was to better understand their current experiences and primary challenges, identify any promising support mechanisms, and to listen to their self-articulated hopes for their future.  

One overarching message emerged: the international community still has an important role to play in exercising its power and leverage to support Afghan women’s rights and alleviate the economic crisis affecting the country.  

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“The international community must listen to our voices on women’s rights like education and our employment, and they should convince the Taliban to give women equal rights in society.” 

Since the de facto government takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021, decision-makers, international media, governments, and international institutions are often talking ‘about’ women in Afghanistan without speaking directly with Afghan women themselves, asking them what they are experiencing or understanding what they need. 

In contrast, this report makes recommendations that are directly derived from the voices and lived experiences of Afghan women and civil society across the following self-identified priority areas: 

  • Women’s Participation and Inclusion 

  • Economic and Humanitarian Crisis 

  • Sustaining the Afghan Women’s Rights Movement within Afghanistan and Beyond 

  • Explicit National Laws and Policies 

  • UN Commitment to Women’s Rights and Humanitarian Action 

Many of the recommendations in this report call for women’s rights, participation, and inclusion in public life within Afghanistan. But beyond acting on these specific recommendations, policymakers and advocates alike must embed participation and inclusion of Afghan women into our processes for developing recommendations and policies henceforth by directly engaging with Afghan civil society and asking and listening to Afghan women, themselves.  

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“I think if Taliban do not accept the women right and do not allow women to get education and work then the future of Afghanistan is dark and unclear especially for women.

Because if they completely take our freedom, we cannot go to school, we cannot speak freely to ask our right, we cannot go to work to earn money and live our life as women do in other countries. And most of the people are suffering from hunger and do not have food to eat today so how can they have hope for future.”   

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As winter continues, the threat of famine is real. Your donation will provide garden kits, cash transfers, and psychological first aid for women in need.