Afghan female politicians stand their ground against Taliban, refusing to flee

The Taliban launched a charm offensive to rehabilitate their image on the world stage, making a major promise to respect the rights of women as they try to govern Afghanistan.

“We assure the international community that there will be no discrimination against women, but, of course, within the frameworks we have,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said at a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday.

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Activists and local journalists, however, say events on the ground tell a different story, with reports of the Taliban conducting home searches and arrests.

And Afghan women are wary of any real change and are preparing for the worst.

Roya Rahmani, the first woman to serve as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US, told CNN earlier this week: “Based on what I know of them and their actions on the ground, I am afraid that the very basic rights of women are in line to be sacrificed.”

Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani speaks during an interview at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP)
Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani speaks during an interview at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP)
She added that “access to education, employment, even physical presence of women in the public sphere is not tolerated,” and stressed: “What the Taliban are going to offer to women is way below equal citizenship. There’s little reason to think anyone would have citizenship rights under the Taliban, based on previous experience. But even so, women will be treated as a ‘lower class,’ deemed fit only for specific roles and nothing else.”

Fawzia Koofi

Former Afghan MP and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi said she doesn’t know what her future might hold in a country ruled by the Taliban, but the former politician who faced assassination attempts in the past insisted she will not flee.
She told CBC Radio: “I’m in Kabul with my two daughters… because I just feel that my being in Kabul will help… keep the morale high.”

“I will continue to stay in Afghanistan for as long as I can. But in the meantime, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow to me, because B-52 airplanes and rockets, the superpowers, NATO, nobody actually were able to defeat Taliban. Taliban are not afraid of them. But they are afraid of the women,” she added.

Zarifa Ghafari

No stranger to death threats and assassination attempts, Afghanistan’s youngest mayor, Zarifa Ghafari, said she awaited the moment the Taliban sent fighters to kill her.
“I’m sitting here waiting for them to come. There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me,” Ghafari told British newspaper i on Sunday.

She was among the many Afghan women who decided to stand their ground, saying on Twitter last week: “I am ready to stay here until the last moment of my life for the prosperity of this beautiful land.”

Salima Mazari

Salima Mazari, one of the three female district governors in Afghanistan and a woman who took up arms against the Taliban, has reportedly been captured.

She had predicted that there will be “no place for women” prior to the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, according to an interview she gave to the Associated Press.

“In the provinces controlled by the Taliban, no women exist there anymore, not even in the cities. They are all imprisoned in their homes.”

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