By Tara Hebbar
With the decision by the U.S. government and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to extract their troops in Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 (the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.) Several nations, governments and citizens are worried for the nation’s security with regard to the Taliban. This will mark the cease of the longest recorded war in U.S. history, which has been on-going for almost 2 decades.
The Trump administration had conditionally decided to extract troops by the 1st of May, and Biden doesn’t seem to have any conditions. Currently, there are approximately 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan along with under 8,000 NATO troops. They are expected to conduct a synchronised widrawal of each and every one of these troops. Many bodies and countries have expressed their concern about the Taliban resurfacing in the nation and causing havoc, like they once did. In the 1990’s, when the Taliban possessed control over the nation, Afghanistan was a welcome state for every militant and terrorist to recruit and fundraise from. Some of these militants were responsible for the 2001 parliament attack in India. This extraction of troops, leaves no incentive for the Taliban to make peace with the Afghan government and could lead to dire consequences for the nation and all its citizens. In this article, we will broadly glance over the possible impacts of this decision made by the President of the U.S.A, Joe Biden on the women of Afghanistan?
One of the biggest concerns is felt by the women of Afghanistan, who under the Afghan rule were oppressed and marginalized, and kept from basic rights such as making them prisoners in their own houses and having an education. With the intervention of U.S. troops, these women have been able to join the military, attend school, compete in the olympics and slowly inch towards normalcy. With the Taliban now poised to gain more power, they are likely to begin reversing and deprogessing, leaving the Afghan women terrified of their future. Whether through force or agreement with the government, the group is bound to gain more power, with this they will look to shut schooling for girls, and will promote violence towards them. A member of Afghanistan’s parliament, Raihana Azad says, “All the time, women are the victims of men’s wars, but they will be the victims of their peace, too.” Leaving their faces uncovered earns a woman a thorough flogging and beating up from the Taliban officials. Over the past years, the U.S. has spent more than 780 million dollars on women’s rights in Afghanistan. Women now make up 40% of students and a recognisable portion of society. Mr. Karimi, chancellor of the Faryab University, sheds more light on the topic, “Female students who live in Taliban areas have been threatened several times, but their families send them secretly. If foreign forces leave early, the situation will get worse.” Although Biden has promised to continue to keep women’s rights a priority, many Afghans are upset at the U.S “pulling the plug” on them, fearing that they have left them vulnerable and helpless. Shahida Husain, an activist says, “I remember when Americans came and they said that they will not leave us alone, and that Afghanistan will be free of oppression, and will be free of war and women’s rights will be protected, wow it looks like it was just slogans.” In the areas controlled by the Taliban, the situation continues to be bad, and now, with the extraction of the troops, these areas could just be what the entirety of the country might resemble.
“With the withdrawal of foreign forces in the next few months, these women that are the breadwinners for their family will be unemployed,” Lina Shirzad, a radio station director says, expressing her concern. She is not alone. Most Afghan women await in apprehension and angst for the day which will change their future, for the seeming worse. Although the U.S government and NATO, will have the reason for this extraction, the constant question is, where will this leave the women of Afghanistan?
Regardless of whether Biden promised to continue to keep women’s rights a priority, who knows what will happen behind the scenes? Although we do have an idea, based on the past, no-one knows what the future will hold for these women.