Several analytical, illustrative, and comprehensive international publications highlight women’s marginalized in Afghanistan under the Taliban administration. Based on a statistical survey, the current survey demonstrates how women have become disengaged from their families and society and become more isolated.
There is no universal definition of women’s engagement in various countries, even though women are an essential component of human society, and their engagement in society is as inevitable as men’s engagement is. For instance, in societies with low literacy rates and structures prioritizing religious values over inclusive human values, the definition of women’s engagement is reduced to serving men, and in this context, maintaining survival is balanced with the responsibility of raising children.
Afghanistan is one of the countries where human values are negated in favour of ethnic and religious values. Years of conflict and extreme poverty are the other factors that have prevented women from achieving meaningful social engagement.
Despite the mediaeval culture, expecting women to preserve it by putting on veils, seeking out shadows, and being passive, the last two decades have opened horizons for women to engage society, and they have nonetheless acquired what is known as “relative engagement.”
The issue of women’s participation in Afghanistan before and after the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the US military withdrawal on August 15, 2021, is discussed and analyzed in comparison. The current report is based on the Survey conducted through Digital Data Collection “Google Form”.
In the present Survey, the majority of participants (90%) were women, and the question of how much they could financially support their families prior to the fall of the previous government in Afghanistan was asked. It was assumed that the understanding of participation problems lies in the economic concept and that women’s engagement should start from families, known as society’s most fundamental unit.
In response to the question on how much they could financially support their family before the fall of the Republic government, about 70 % of female respondents answered in favour of “very much, and “much”, 14.9% said they could “hardly” financially support their family, 10.3% and 5.7% have chosen “very less” and “Do not Know” respectively.
It can be asserted that 45 % of women, including those who chose the “No Idea” option, were “actively financially supporting” their families, and 25% contributed less financially supporting their families.
Overall, the research finding shows that before the fall of the previous government, a sizeable portion of women had what is referred to as “social engagement”.
Meanwhile, after the fall of the previous regime, about 5.7% of the respondents answered in favour of “very much” and “much” regarding how much they could financially support their families. In other words, about 70% of women before the fall could financially support their families, while this decreased after the fall of the regime in less than two years, with 8% in the women’s engagement of “very much and “much”.
In response to the question on how much they could financially support their family after the fall of the Republic government to show the women’s engagement in society, among the given option, 61.4% chose “less” and “very less”, and 33% selected “No Idea” options.
The finding of the Survey shows that women’s engagement has been strongly affected by the Taliban, both in society and family. According to the Survey, women lack social participation/engagement in the family and society.
The consequences of the complete and systematic exclusion of women from public life have also left a destructive impact on the country’s economic situation and families. Among the respondents, 26.1 % said that the monthly expenditure of families has changed from 40 thousand AFG in the past to 10 thousand AFG 27.6% of respondents.
The survey finding shows that the monthly expenditure of 55.6% of families in Afghanistan was between 30 to 40 thousand AFG before the regime change. In comparison, 31% of families had a monthly expenditure of 30 to 40 AFG after the regime change.
Finally, 3.4 % of the respondents, including male and female, said that their family’s monthly expenditure before the fall of the regime was 10 thousand AFG or less. In comparison, this has increased to 27.6 % after the fall of the previous government.
International organization reports
In addition to the Survey’s findings, briefly discussed above, reports from international organizations were released, reiterating the Taliban’s decrees denying women’s participation in Afghanistan and highlighting other aspects of the issue.
According to a report released by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in October last year, the ban on women’s work in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime has estimated one billion dollars lost to the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, it has also been estimated that the ban on women’s social activities in Afghanistan will cause a 20 % decrease the country’s net income.
In addition, a report released by UNESCO shows that the presence of women and girls in Afghanistan’s universities has increased 20 times after 2001, while it has decreased to zero again since the Taliban took control of the country in 2021.
Furthermore, it has been almost 700 days since girls were prohibited from attending school beyond the sixth grade, considered one of the most significant pillars of society.
Since December last year, women have been banned from working with domestic and foreign non-governmental organizations. Reports indicate that the Taliban has issued at least 43 separate decrees to “systematically erase women and girls from the public space.”
As many as 400 women working with the United Nations and relevant organizations were also banned in April; as a result, women are even denied from working with aid agencies.
UN experts, and the international community, including Amnesty International, have described the current suppressive policies in Afghanistan as “discriminatory” and that the Taliban have committed a “crime against humanity” by “systematically erasing women from public space.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that Afghanistan is at the bottom of the list for the “gender gap” with the Taliban, indicating that Afghan society has “severely” perverted gender equality.
Even though the UN and the international community have repeatedly condemned the restrictions on women, nothing has changed in the past 20 months, while more restrictions have been placed on women’s participation in society.
The research findings suggest that the current situation in the county will keep Afghanistan in a disadvantaged position for many years to come, with little chance of compensation.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, they have left a shameful track record in human rights, particularly women’s rights. This record explains that the Taliban mindset is alien to accepting human rights, particularly women’s rights.
The present research says that in addition to poverty, the Taliban is a major contributor to more significant issues that now threaten Afghanistan, one of which is the promotion of a “misogynist mentality” in a society that does not recognize women’s social engagement.