There’s so much needed.
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.
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.
Afghanistan’s largest cities have been overtaken by the Taliban, and Afghan allies to the United States — such as translators, embassy workers, and more, along with their families — face a heightened risk of violence from the Taliban for assisting American troops. The Taliban has been known to execute interpreters and those who worked with international institutions like the U.S. military in retaliation killings.
No One Left Behind “is an all-volunteer organization working to support” these allies by providing them with support in applying for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), as well as the financial resources needed to prosper in the United States. The group, which identifies as being composed of “Afghan-Americans and veterans,” is also sharing information resources via a Change.org page. To support their work, you can donate here.
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.