Fahim Yousufi


The Taliban, backed by Pakistan, emerged in Afghanistan in 1994, announcing their establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Initially appearing as the saviour of Afghanistan, they disappointed Afghans by introducing an unprecedented version and understanding of Islam. They restricted women’s movement in the public, banning their education and work outside the home. Charged with harbouring Al Qaeda’s leader, the Taliban regime was overthrown by the US in October 2001; they rose again and began their insurgent attacks against the foreign forces and the government after 2003. Their position towards women’s education and work outside of the home has been fraught with ups and downs since then. Initially, in 2006, the Taliban instructed their fighters to attack any government-run schools, particularly girls’ schools; Around 2010-2012, their position softened, allowing girls to attend schools and women to work as teachers and doctors. However, this purported modification was accompanied by hard-to-meet precepts that have continued to deprive women of education and work outside the home. Many studies postulate that the Taliban’s position has altered regarding women’s education and work outside the home, however, Taliban fighters’ behaviour on the battleground and their leadership’s actions in the peace talks say otherwise. The change in the Taliban’s policy appears nominal, deceptive, and tactical, only there to attract the attention of national and international media and foster popular support for a return to power. Using secondary data, this article explores the Taliban’s position regarding women’s rights to education and employment, to determine if, how, why, and to what extent the Taliban’s position has changed in this regard and examine the prospect of women’s rights in Afghanistan if the current peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government bear results. Based on the findings, some recommendations are suggested to ensure women’s voices are heard and that the probable peace-agreement is gender-responsive.

Author Biography

Fahim Yousufi is an international development professional from Afghanistan. He worked for over 12 years with various national and international organizations in Afghanistan where he managed different projects in collaboration with the Afghan government and civil society organizations to enhance women’s political participation and leadership in governance and peacebuilding. He holds a BA in Law and an MA in Public International Law. He holds a second MA in Peace, Conflict and Development from the University of Bradford, UK. His areas of interest and expertise include gender and women, peace and security issues, development, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution.