Exactly 20 years ago, Coalition troops entered Afghanistan with the aim of toppling the Taliban regime and bringing democracy to the country.
In 2001, Afghanistan was a nation on its knees, exhausted by decades of civil war, military occupation, brutal regimes and terror. Women paid the highest price: very often, they were widows, their husbands killed in the war, the youngest among them orphaned by their fathers for the same reason, almost always destitute and forced to beg in the streets for charity to support their families. All, however, relegated to a position of inferiority under the Taliban government.
After the victory of the Coalition, women began to hope for liberation. However, their hopes were almost always in vain. Despite some signs of emancipation – greater participation in political life, the possibility of enrolling in university or joining the armed forces, and a very strong desire to make their voices heard – Afghan women soon had to resign themselves to the fact that the country’s traditions are still too deeply rooted to allow a genuine gender equality.
And now that the United States is pulling out its troops after negotiating an exit strategy with its erstwhile enemy, the Taliban, which has returned to dominate the territory and will most likely be restored to power, Afghan women fear losing even the little autonomy they have painstakingly gained over the past 20 years.