Gender Equality Across the Ocean Matters Too

By Arly Andrade

The year 2001 was groundbreaking for women in Afghanistan. From 1996 to 2001 the Taliban controlled the country and women in Afghanistan were denied basic human rights. They were denied education, employment and could not be seen in public by themselves. However, in 2001 when the Taliban lost power, the Afghan women regained their freedoms. Since 2001, “more girls have enrolled in school and children mortality rates have decreased.” They were getting to experience the life they had once lived. 

However, they have been struck with tragedy once again these past couple of months. As we all have probably heard, the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan again. This has caused many women and children to flee, in fear of getting killed. “Of the 250,000 people in Afghanistan who were forced to flee, 80% of them have been women and children.” It hurts to think that innocent women and children are displaced the most in violent tragedies like these.  

People in the LGBTQIA+ community are also victims of this tragedy. These people have also had to go into hiding or flee: “No official statement has been made, but in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper in July, one Taliban judge said there were only two punishments for homosexuality — stoning or being crushed under a wall.” Many are seeking refuge in other countries.  

Although Americans see a lot of news coverage of Afghanistan, we rarely do anything to help. We tend to think that these issues will resolve themselves quickly. While we sit back and watch, we think that there is nothing we can do. That is not the case.  

Thankfully, we have seen organizations like Women for Women International and Women for Afghan Women advocating for these women as they struggle to seek refuge and rebuild their lives. These organizations are currently in Afghanistan helping women and children flee the violent environment. Women for Women International also helps women defend their rights, teaches them how they can live a physically and mentally healthy life, shows them that they have an influence on decisions made in their homes and communities, and teaches them how to generate and save money for the future. These programs are incredibly beneficial to women who are seeking refuge from dangerous areas and to those whose lives got flipped upside down after fleeing. There are also many local agencies that help refugees, one in particular is Della Lamb. Della Lamb provides many services including refugee resettlement services. While we might not be able to do much, the least we can do is volunteer and donate to these organizations and others that impact women, children, and the LGBTQIA+ communities in Afghanistan. 

It is truly amazing to see how groups of women will come together to support each other and even save each other’s lives. Even though the events in Afghanistan may not affect all of us, it is important to advocate for those whose voices are not being heard and to share and support organizations and/or resources that help them. At the end of the day, women should always support women, regardless of our different backgrounds. It’s important for us women to band and stick together and defend one another when we see each other struggling. In fact, we all need to band together and help one another when we see each other being oppressed.