In August, this year, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, shortly after American and international troops completed their scheduled withdrawal from the country. The new regime has significantly changed the futures of Afghani women; this is the story of two such women.
Afghanistan functions like any other country, with a government in place and ministries to look after matters. One of those is the Health Ministry, in which works Karima Mayar Amiri, a 54 year old department head, one of the few women who retains a position of power. Amiri believes Afghans must be served no matter who is at the helm.
On the other hand is Rishmin Juyunda, a 26 year old activist who has no illusions about the Taliban’s views on women’s rights. “Afghan women will never be served with the Taliban in power,” she told AP. Under the Taliban, women in most government ministries are now unable to work, teenage girls are prohibited from going to school, and the interim cabinet is composed entirely of men.
Amiri, a mother of six, retained her senior position as the director of the ministry’s Quality and Safety Department, but her case is rare; most senior female bureaucrats have been barred from work. “It was not a difficult decision for me to stay. As long as I am healthy, I will work for them, for my people, my country,” she told AP.
Juyunda, many years Amiri’s junior, is entering her last semester majoring in economics at Zahra University in Tehran. After the takeover, Juyunda’s dreams were dashed overnight, and her friends left the country but she continued to fight on. ”I will never leave Afghanistan. I have to stay and make a change,” she says.