The Taliban militia’s harsh new policies are compromising the lives of thousands of Afghan widows. In an attempt to enforce a system of gender apartheid, Taliban authorities imposed a new ruling that forbids women from being employed by foreign aid agencies. Many agencies provide food to thousands of poor Afghan widows and their families, and cannot operate without the help of Afghan women employees. Earlier this month, a public outcry prompted the Taliban to reverse a ruling ordering the United Nations to close bakeries run by Afghan widows that provided bread at subsidized prices to thousands of Afghan families.
Since 1996, when the Taliban militia took control of Kabul, women in areas under Taliban rule have been oppressed by a strict system of gender apartheid, under which they have been stripped of their visibility, voice and mobility. The edicts imposed by the Taliban, which have been brutally enforced, banished most women from the work force, closed schools to girls in cities and expelled women from universities, and prohibited women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan works to fully and permanently restore the human rights of Afghan women and girls.