While the Taliban pretends it is better than its 1996 predecessor, the extremist organization has continued to limit the rights of the women who have remained in Afghanistan.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, in August 2021, the world grew concerned for Afghan women. While Taliban leaders attempted to present themselves as willing to treat Afghani residents properly and care for their rights, they have consistently failed to do so. Week after week, the Taliban government has expanded its moral rulings regarding the conduct of women and heavily restricted their ability to work and learn.

Here are all of the ways that the Taliban government has made life harder for women.



While Taliban officials initially expressed support for girls' education in the first few days after their takeover of Kabul, their actions have implied otherwise. Taliban barred girls' schools from reopening across Afghanistan in September while also filing an edict demanding that male students and their teachers return to religious seminaries.

Taliban leaders also took over Kabul University, a college that had previously served men and women together. The Taliban-appointed university ambassador stated on Sept. 28 that women would be barred from school until "an Islamic environment has been created." Kabul University was reopened in February 2022 to much applause.

Several other universities have reopened since. However, classes were segregated, with women allowed to study in the morning while men attended in the afternoon. The university was told to adhere to Taliban-approved coursework and to bar all music from being played.

Those bans have continued until recently. While Taliban officials had initially promised to open girls' schools for teenagers and preteens on March 23, that promise was revoked when the Taliban filed an edict ordering all girls' schools to close over problems involving uniforms.



The Taliban have restricted women's access to employment in accordance with their particular interpretation of Islamic doctrine. This included closing Afghanistan's women's ministry, which was then replaced by the "Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice," which enforces the organization's views on morality in the public sphere.

Taliban officials said in September that they told women to stay home for security reasons and that they would eventually be allowed to work once the genders had been properly segregated. While some women attempted to resist the segregation, it has not stopped the Taliban from segregating government offices, public transportation, and universities.

The decision to no longer employ women has already affected the country's economic bottom line. "Restricting women from working could result in an immediate economic loss of up to US$1 billion — or up to five percent of the country's GDP," according to a December socioeconomic assessment released by the United Nations Development Programme.

More than a half-million people have lost or been pushed out of their jobs, according to a January report from the U.N. International Labour Organization. The ILO found that women's employment levels decreased by 16% in the third quarter of 2021, and it expects that number to increase to 21% by mid-2022.

Everyday life

The Taliban restrictions have extended to several parts of everyday life since the fall of Kabul. There have been select edicts that allowed women some freedom, such as banning men from giving away their daughters in marriage without the woman's permission. However, it has not stopped the Taliban from making other parts of women's lives harder.

An edict was issued Sunday declaring that women could not fly on airlines without a male chaperone. Women are also not allowed to travel more than 45 kilometers without a male relative.

Public amenities, such as parks, have also been restricted, with women only being allowed to access the park three days a week.


Any hope of change?

While the Taliban claimed that it would adopt a "softer" approach to its interpretation of Islamic law and women, it has continued to miss that mark, and there is little evidence that it will change.

The Taliban government was recognized by the U.N. despite its conduct in recent months. It is also receiving billions in donations from across the world in an attempt to keep it afloat. "Recent events should be a clarion call to the nations of the world to recognize that the Taliban are unchanged," former intelligence analyst Beth Bailey wrote in the Washington Examiner. "The international community should sanction the Taliban while also supporting Afghan women and girls."