“Due to the critical situation, I was not able to reach a single woman or girl properly”

A woman in a black hijab stares at the camera, against a black background

Photo Credit: UN Women/Sayed Habib Bidell

This is not Nasima, but one of the millions of Afghan women who can no longer work or be active in public life.

Nasima (not her real name) is a former gender-based violence officer from Kandahar, Afghanistan. She is not allowed to share her story or continue raising awareness about gender-based violence in the country, so we are doing it for her.

“I was a medical student in the fifth semester, but due to the [Taliban’s] ban on university education, I could not continue.

I had nearly seven years of work experience in private companies and with international development organizations. I had a job as a Gender-based Violence Officer. I was the only breadwinner in my family. Before 15 August and the 24 December ban, I was able to work and feed my family.

Before the Taliban takeover, I wanted to work from my heart and really spread awareness about women’s rights through door-to-door visits, but the situation did not allow me to raise awareness properly, due to fear from the de facto authorities (DFA).

I was afraid and thought that if any woman told her husband or any male in her household about the awareness she had received from me, then maybe next time, they would prevent my entry into that village or area. I faced many challenges because the DFA don’t want to raise women’s voices.

I wanted to be a voice for many hopeless women, but due to the critical situation, I was not able to reach a single woman or girl properly.

After the ban, I am jobless and totally hopeless. There is no way for me to feed my family. All the changes and bans since the Taliban takeover have left me in a financial crisis. I even lost my education, which is very painful for me. I often feel that someone is chasing me, and this fear has really affected me. Life has become hell for Afghan women and girls. We Afghans are going backwards and there is no development. I got depressed from the situation. We have no future, no education and no rights anymore.

Safety and security are the main thing I wish and hope for, for Afghan women, because without safety and security women and girls cannot continue their education, work, or even step outside their homes. Secondly, I hope girls get permission to get an education. You can see girls teary-eyed because they’ve lost hope. Every time the DFA declare a new ban and decree for women and girls, they are taking away the lives and rights of women and girls. 

The international community should impose restrictions on the DFA to allow girls to pursue a higher education and allow women and girls to work. The United Nations and international NGOs should ask them to allow female staff because without them they will not be able to continue their presence and activities in Afghanistan. The Public Health Directorate should also stop all activities being performed by their female staff. That will force the DFA to allow all women to restart their work.

Women have committed suicide because they have no hope and life has become meaningless to them. Women and girls only have hope that the international community will raise their voices and stand with them. I am thankful to you for giving me a chance to speak from my heart and raise my voice. I must say that this is not only my voice, but that of all girls and women in my area.”

Nasima's story and those of more than 50 other women currently living in Afghanistan can be found on the After August website. Their names and locations have been changed for their protection. This collection of true stories documenting the lives of Afghan women is a collaboration between UN Women Afghanistan, Zan Times, Limbo and independent storytellers. It aims to raise awareness and incite an international audience to reflect and, hopefully, to act. 

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