The Afghan women fighting for their rights

STORY: These Afghan women have been fighting for their rights since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021.

Critics say women's rights have since been undermined with new curbs on their clothes, movement, education and employment.

Reuters spoke to three women who have all lost out in different ways.

What unites them is their refusal to give up hope.


16-year-old Kerishma Rasheedi was a proud high school student before the Taliban swept to power.

She hasn’t been able to go back to school since.

"We have many hopes, inshallah (God willing) our schools will reopen again, but if not, we have no other choice but to leave the country and go abroad for education.”

In March the Taliban backtracked on their announcement that high schools would open for girls.

The government said schools would remain closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law.

Rasheedi has been doing all she can to keep up with her studies.

She attends classes at a private education center for girls.

The Taliban has allowed a few private education centres for women to open as long as they have obtained permission from the justice ministry.

“I want to become a successful journalist in the future, I would love to serve my country, and education is my basic human right. I want to continue my education so I can convey the miseries of other women to the authorities.”


Monesa Mubarez is one of Afghanistan’s leading women’s rights activist.

The 31-year-old has a master’s degree in international relations and used to work for the finance ministry.

She lost her job when the militant regime seized power.

“What we want is justice, freedom, and equality only, every respectful media outlet knows that our slogans are based on food, job, and freedom, and all these are the basic rights of every citizen.”

Mubarez has organized 17 street protests so far.

She and a team of like-minded women meet at least once a week to plan and promote their work on social media.

She admits it’s dangerous work.

“It is natural that all of these (protesting women) have experienced threats in various ways, we still receive threatening calls (from the Taliban). We were blacklisted, we were not allowed to leave the country. These threats are all expected for protesting women.”

“I’m quite sure, if one of us gets killed, there will be others who will raise their voices. These cries will remain in the streets of Kabul until justice has been achieved.”


Gulestan Safari loved her job in the police.

There used to be more than 20,000 women police officers in Afghanistan.

Most of them were sacked once the Taliban took over the country.

Only a fraction was retained to manage women’s prisons.

Now Safari earns $3 or $4 a day cleaning houses.

“My job was so valuable for me, I loved my job, we were so happy, but when the Taliban came, they did not allow us to go to work, saying ‘go back to your houses, we don’t want women to work.’ We held many protests, we asked them to allow us to go to work by promising to wear hijab, but they pointed their gun at us, and told us to get lost.”

“I urge the international community to help us, and save us from the Taliban. We are tired of this situation, how long do we have to suffer like this? How long should women sit in their houses? We are dying from this situation, we have to flee the country. The international community must help us.”