An Uncertain Future for Women in Afghanistan: Preserving Every Voice, Every Mark, Every Journey


The sight of torn-down walkways in Villa Caracas, Colombia is a common one. As I walked among them, I came across a blue, frayed, empty childrens shoe among the bricks, rocks, and glass. Many questions arose as I pondered the person and journey behind the shoe. I picked it up in hopes of finding who it belonged to. Although I was uncertain that I'd be able to find the owner, I knew that this shoe marked a voice; it marked a journey.


Many items, even the simplest ones, represent us - our interests, our battle scars, our achievements. A shoe marks a journey, a book marks a lesson, a degree marks a future. As Afghanistan enters a frightening era under the Taliban's rule, we now wonder what will happen to the achievements and journeys of the Afghan people. Will their progress be buried under a pile of rubble like that frayed children’s shoe? How can we preserve their journeys, let their voices be heard?


Chaos and distress gripped Kabul as the Taliban effectively seized control of Afghanistan this past Sunday. Once American troops evacuated, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and the Taliban faced little resistance. Fed uncertain promises of "safety," a "peaceful life," and a "better future" by the Taliban, Afghans have turned to the international community in search of refuge and protection (Gall).


With Afghan women facing the most frightening futures, women must come together in support. Roya is a model of this: In 2017, Roya Mahoob sponsored The Afghan Girls Robotics Team, which later participated in an international competition in Washington, D.C. (Myre). The team won a "Courageous Achievement" award at the competition. Made up of more than 20 girls, the team remains together through their fight for education and for life.


We need more Royas in a time like this. This is a time where truly anything, big or small, will help: donating to religious organizations, hosting Afghan refugee families, tutoring women arriving in the U.S.... This is not a time for us to be hopeless. It is a time to be strong: the women - the students, the mothers, the workers, the daughters, the refugees - need us.


The Taliban claims that we should trust them. "Trust us," they say as they paint a vague and uncertain promise for women's rights in Afghanistan (Roberson). "Trust us," they said as they murdered a woman on August 18th, 2021 for not wearing a Burqa (Ibbetson). "Trust us," they say as they begin to burn every ounce of respect and freedom that women had to the ground.


We can't trust them. So we must come forward as women, as immigrants, as allies to do everything we can to be the community that Afghan women can trust - the community that can be trusted to preserve every voice, every mark, every journey - the community that won’t let these things go buried in the chaos and oppression of the Taliban.



Ways You Can Help:


Donate your miles to refugees:

https://miles4migrants.org


Help Welcome Afghan Refugees in the DMV Area: (2,500 refugees are arriving in the NOVA area)

Through Lutheran Social Services you can:

Become a mentor

Offer temporary Housing

Tutor a Refugee Family

Donate

Offer a Welcome Home Gift

https://lssnca.org/take_action/afghan-allies.html


Sacramento Area:

Volunteer with World Relief to help relocate families, become a tutor, or welcome refugees in their arrival

https://worldrelief.org/sacramento/get-involved/volunteer/


Donate to Urgent Crisis Relief for Afghanistan 2021:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/afghanistanrelief2021


Donate to WAW (Women for Afghan Women):

https://womenforafghanwomen.networkforgood.com/projects/123748-20-years-of-afghan-women-strong


Citations:

Gall, Carlotta. “Afghanistan Live Updates: Government Collapses as President FLEES, and Taliban Enter Kabul.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Aug. 2021, nytimes.com


Ibbetson, Ross. “Life under the 'Moderate' Taliban: FIGHTERS Tar a 'Car Thief' and Tie Him to the Back of Truck.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 18 Aug. 2021,dailymail.co.uk


Myre, Greg. “The Future of the Afghan Girls Robotics Team Is Precarious.” NPR, NPR, 19 Aug. 2021, npr.org


“Taliban Spokesman Lays out Plans for a New Afghan Government.” Interview by Nic Roberson, CNN, Cable News Network, 16 Aug. 2021, www.cnn.com