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A year under the Taliban: How Afghan women are fighting for lost rights

Introduction by Zahra Nader and Amie Ferris-Rotman, translations by Sahar Fetrat

When Kabul fell to the Taliban in the middle of August, ending America’s longest-ever war, the rest of the world watched with horror and disbelief. One question was on almost everyone’s mind: What will happen to Afghan women? 

Improving the plight of Afghan women and girls was a central part of the U.S.-led campaign, and the past 20 years oversaw hard-won gains: Women filled university hallways and office desks, traveled freely across the country and further afield and joined nearly every aspect of public life. They became policewomen, judges and Olympians. By 2019, there was a larger percentage of women in Afghanistan’s parliament than the U.S. Congress.

Most of this progress vanished during the last weeks of tumult. The Taliban say its new government is “inclusive,” but there are no women and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has been disbanded. Schools are already being shuttered across the country and women ordered home from their places of work.

In collaboration with Rukhshana Media, an Afghan newsroom led by women, we are publishing a series of firsthand accounts on what life is like for women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Through these dispatches, we are centering the voices of ordinary Afghan women who are not making the headlines. We will show what these women have lost and what they will continue to lose with the Taliban in power.

We hope that through this joint project, we will create a conversation around the difficulties and hardships these women endure in their everyday lives, and learn what they have in common with each other. It is vital the world hears the quotidian narratives of Afghan women at this crucial time in their history.

An illustration depicting Afghan women and girls
(Illustration: Naina Hussain/The Fuller Project)

This project, which was produced in collaboration with Rukhshana Media, is part of The Fuller Project’s ongoing series, “Ending America’s Forever War: What is next for Afghan women?”, documenting what the end of America’s longest war on foreign soil means for the women who have lived through it. This coverage will be updated as more dispatches come in.

‘We have to fight back.’ Afghan women are losing their hard-won right to work under the Taliban

May 17, 2022
“We go to work with fear.” From travel restrictions to a new order to cover their faces in public, Afghan women face growing challenges to their hard-won right to work.

Queer Afghan lives are at risk under the Taliban

Apr 20, 2022
During the US occupation, little was done to build a support network for the LGBTQ+ community in Afghanistan. Now their lives are in danger as they struggle to flee.

Dating in the time of the Taliban

Mar 4, 2022
For most Young Afghans coming of age under US occupation, the Taliban was a history lesson. For them, mingling in restaurants and dating was normal. Now, everything has changed.

The Taliban are harming Afghan women’s health

Mar 2, 2022
Afghanistan’s new government is imposing discriminatory restrictions on the health care system.

‘Since the Taliban took over, I have lost almost everything’

Nov 2, 2021
An Afghan woman is attacked by a Taliban soldier during a protest. Then one shows up at her door the next day. Now she must flee.

‘My Classmates Have No Hope’

Nov 1, 2021
“We were the ones hoping to shape the future, but they took that future away from us,” a teen girl writes, describing the “terror” of attending a high school in northern Afghanistan under Taliban control.

‘We Must Stay Strong’

Oct 25, 2021
A young Afghan woman seeks solidarity and hope for women and girls despite Taliban oppression.

‘Can You Imagine How Difficult It Is to Feel Exiled in Your Own City?’

Oct 22, 2021
A female journalist in Kabul adjusts to life under the Taliban’s shadow.

‘I Want to Continue My Education’

Oct 21, 2021
A 19-year-old dressmaker in Kabul fears her dreams of continuing her education will make her a target for the Taliban.

‘I Went Out and Shouted for Freedom’

Sep 30, 2021
An Afghan college student had only heard stories about what life was like under the Taliban. Then months before graduation, “everything fell apart.”

Life of Fear Replaces Life of Dreams After Taliban Takeover

Sep 30, 2021
Once the breadwinner for eight people, an Afghan woman says she now feels “in prison” since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

‘Being Imprisoned at Home is What Awaits Me’

Sep 30, 2021
An Afghan agricultural engineer fought for her education and her career. “Now, getting forced to marry a Talib, becoming a second wife, and being imprisoned at home is what awaits me,” she writes.

Struggling to survive: Story of a challenging journey

Sep 15, 2021
“During the days that I lived under the dark shadow of the Taliban, I felt like a bird in a cage. Like a bird with wings, but no permission to fly,” Afghan journalist Zahra Joya says, describing life under the Taliban.

‘The Taliban Came and Killed My Spirit!’

Sep 13, 2021
A school teacher in central Afghanistan laments the loss of educational opportunities for girls and women since the Taliban took control.

The Taliban’s Return Was the Death of Dreams

Sep 13, 2021
After two weeks of living under Taliban control, a youth activist decides it’s time to for her to leave Afghanistan. “This is not what our people deserve,” says Hosnia Mohseni, 30.

‘The Humiliation I Experienced Just to Escape the Taliban’

Sep 13, 2021
Get trampled or crawl through sewage? An Afghan woman describes the “humiliating” conditions fleeing Afghans faced while trying to escape Afghanistan after the Taliban took over.

‘The Day the Taliban Reached Kabul, it Turned into a Ghost City’

Sep 13, 2021
Afghan journalist Maryam Nabavi describes feelings of hope and despair after Kabul fell to the Taliban.

‘They Left Us to the Taliban’

Sep 3, 2021
Six Afghan women describe their feelings of fear, anger, and betrayal in the wake of America’s departure.

What Afghanistan’s women stand to lose

Aug 20, 2021
For the past 20 years, Afghan women were told to chase their dreams. But within days of the Taliban takeover, Afghan women are mourning their working lives and freedom.

As the Taliban Resurges in Afghanistan, Girls Are Already Losing Schools

Jul 7, 2021
Girls’ education—once a signature achievement of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan—is increasingly under threat as the Taliban tightens its grip.

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