Taliban Replaces Women’s Ministry: The Uncertain Future of Women in Afghanistan
The Taliban claimed to have evolved, notably in their views on women.
In Afghanistan, the new Taliban government has replaced the ministry of women's affairs with the “ministry of vice and virtue”. It has been named "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice". Additionally, Female employees who had been trying to come to work for several weeks were told to return home.
"I am the only breadwinner in my family," said a woman, who also said she worked in the department. "When there is no ministry, what should an Afghan woman do? (The Tribune, 2021). Similarly, in the era of their last rule from 1996-2001, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were prohibited from jobs and education in Afghanistan. Besides that, women were totally excluded from public life.
In the aftermath of the US withdrawal, the Taliban swore not to pursue old adversaries and to uphold women's rights within an Islamic framework, despite Afghan women's fears that the advances they have won over the last 20 years may be lost. The Taliban claimed to have evolved, notably in their views on women. However, they have recently employed violence against female protestors demanding equal rights. Women would not be allowed to work in government ministries with men, according to a senior Taliban leader.
Furthermore, photographs and images of women displayed on the large windows of salons and billboards featuring women have been totally vandalized. Women are vanishing from public life, bringing an end to 20 years of equality and freedom. Women in Afghanistan fear a return to the previous circumstances after two decades of liberating education, work, and involvement in civic, political, and economic life.
Furthermore, the Taliban's return has threatened the women's security that came with the international community which asserted that Afghan women could choose to educate themselves and their daughters, work, enter politics, or start a business (Donnell, 2021).
The Taliban claimed to be committed to women’s rights. However, many women and their families are skeptical that the group has evolved. For women, the Taliban's pre-accession to power heralds an unclear and perhaps disastrous return to the restrictive rules that were enacted against them two decades ago. Meanwhile, international funding for women's programs has been stopped, with no indication of when or if it will resume.
Extremists have so far refused to let women back to official positions; some female television news anchors have been forced to wear more modest clothing or have been taken off the air entirely. The Taliban were pressuring the head editor of a private television station to dismiss women from their job. Several activists have been abducted from their homes as the Taliban goes door to door looking for enemies.
Women's future in Afghanistan is uncertain as the Taliban maintain their uncompromising stance. The Taliban's announcement that women should stay indoors to avoid abuse by their young warriors, signaling a lack of discipline and the potential for violence, was perhaps one of the most frightening signs of what the future holds.