Nearly 20 years after former President George W. Bush declared the “War on Terror” following the September 11 attacks in New York City, all American troops are scheduled to exit Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021. However, with the departure of U.S. forces, the Taliban — a militant group of religious extremists — has retaken the majority of the country. Amid this conflict, women have become one of the country’s most vulnerable targets for violence and oppression under the Taliban. So if you’re looking for ways to help but aren’t sure where to start, here’s how to help women in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal.
The Taliban, whose
origins date back to the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1970s and ‘80s, previously held power over the majority of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Under their regime, women were denied opportunities in employment and education, required to wear a burqa and be accompanied by a man at all times in public, at a heightened risk for sexual violence, and were subject to harsh punishment — including execution — for disobedience. The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, following the September 11 attacks, and has maintained a military presence there ever since, pushing the Taliban out of official power. However, the country remained in conflict: According to the Associated Press, more than 47,000 Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001.
As of Aug. 17, Taliban leadership had reclaimed most of Afghanistan, including the capital city of Kabul — leaving
local and international activists worried about the fate of the country’s women under a regime which has been known for its violent oppression of women and girls. While Taliban leadership has promised to support women’s rights to education and independence “according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values,” according to a Taliban leader quoted by NPR, many are naturally skeptical. Malala Yousafzai, the education activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban as a teen in 2012, wrote in The New York Times of the urgency of aiding women in the area. “In this critical moment we must listen to the voices of Afghan women and girls. They are asking for protection, for education, for the freedom and the future they were promised,” she wrote on Aug. 17.
Afghan communities, and particularly women in the country, are once again at a heightened risk of violence, displacement, and oppression under Taliban rule. So, here are five ways you can help some of the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Donate To Support Women On The Ground
The United States is
withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, and violence in the country is rapidly increasing. Now more than ever, women in Afghanistan need support to live equitable lives. They face political and economic insecurity, educational inequality, sexual violence, and more.
To support Afghan women in this uncertain time, you can donate to the
Women For Women International emergency fund here, where they’ll direct funds to those most in need of help. According to the program’s website, the money in Afghanistan supports “training [that] helps women know and defend their rights, lead mentally and physically healthy lives, influence decisions at home and in their communities, generate income, and save money for the future, contributing to economic self-sufficiency in their lives and for their families.” Meanwhile, a recent tweet from the organization said that it was working to get women’s rights activists, who are believed to be seriously at risk of retribution, out of the country.
They’ll match up to $500,000 in donations, dollar for dollar — so your money is doing double the work.
Volunteer To Help Afghan Refugees In The U.S. Resettle
Donate To The International Rescue Committee
International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been working to support Afghans since 1988, and is committed to providing humanitarian aid to as many people as possible. Now, in this time of crisis, the IRC is collecting donations to support women and girls in the country by delivering aid in areas of conflict and supporting displaced people in Kabul. According to the IRC’s website, the organization “support[s] displaced families with shelter, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities. We provide cash assistance and help people find livelihood opportunities. And we create safe learning spaces and offer community-based education, among other assistance.”
To support women and girls — who often bear the brunt of violence among civilians — in Afghanistan,
you can donate here.
Help People Displaced Internally In Afghanistan
Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Even as Afghan refugees try to leave the country, many have nowhere to go. According to Insider,
30,000 Afghans have fled the country weekly since May. However, the United States is only projected to accept around 30,000 refugees on Special Immigrant Visas (SIV). Canada has committed to taking on 20,000 refugees on an undisclosed timeframe, and European nations like Albania and Kosovo are also taking in refugees. Meanwhile, some 400,000 Afghans have been displaced internally, per Insider. This means thousands of women, children, and families from Afghanistan are fleeing their homes, have nowhere to go, and need emergency shelter.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been on the ground, providing displaced Afghan families with emergency shelter kits, sanitary supplies, and more. To help provide much-needed supplies to displaced families from Afghanistan, you can donate to the UNHCR here.
Donate To Islamic Relief USA
As the Taliban’s brutal regime tightens its grip on Afghanistan, women and girls displaced by war and violence need humanitarian aid to access adequate shelter, nutrition, and medical care.
Islamic Relief USA “has served in Afghanistan for more than 20 years, and continues to prioritize those in dire need in Afghanistan today” by providing those in crisis with food, water, and shelter. To help displaced women, girls, and families in Afghanistan, you can donate here.
Donate To Women For Afghan Women
As one of Afghanistan’s largest women’s organizations,
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) is providing “life-changing services, education, and vocational training” for women and girls in both Afghanistan and America. According to their site, their main goal is to “help Afghan women and girls exercise their rights to pursue their individual potential to self-determination, and to representation in all areas of life — political, social, cultural, and economic.”
Now that the Taliban has taken over most major cities in Afghanistan, WAW has been working day and night to keep their clients, staff, and their families safe by providing them with evacuation resources, shelter, and more. To support them through this crisis,
you can donate here.