‘Files from Exile’ Interview Series with Female Leaders from Afghanistan

As a part of the Forum’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, we conducted ‘Files From Exile’, an interview series with prominent female Afghan leaders who continue to work for their communities and stand for the rights of Afghan women despite living in exile. As one of the most fertile grounds for debates surrounding women’s rights in the Middle East, Afghanistan continues to be a hub for the oppression and mistreatment of women under the re-established Taliban regime. Despite the 20 years of democratic rule, women’s roles in society have remained limited and controlled, a culture which has been exacerbated by the Taliban’s ongoing war against them.

Although international speculation continues the conversation about women in Afghanistan, they have often been side-lined in these discussions. ‘Files From Exile’ aimed to highlight these voices, exploring the challenges women in Afghanistan have faced in recent decades through their eyes. Drawing from three primary sectors, the legal, educational, and political spheres, we identified prominent female leaders in exile who not only played a key role within Afghan society during the democratic period but have also continued to maximise their platform to mobilise support and awareness for the women who remain in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s regime.

The month of May holds a special significance in the Taliban’s war against women. The initial Doha Agreement between the US and the Taliban guaranteed the full withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan by May, 2021. Although this deadline was ultimately extended, the political ramifications for women in Afghanistan remained exponential. On 8th of May 2021, the Taliban stepped up its attacks against women, detonating a car bomb outside of a school, targeting and injuring predominantly female students. The effects of these attacks further restricted women’s safety in educational spaces. On 7th May, 2022, the Taliban re-imposed legislation to ban women from being unveiled in public, and encouraged women not to leave their homes, further codifying the legal oppression of Afghan women. May has proven to be a significant month for Afghanistan in terms of its legal, educational and political impact on women. As a result, the Forum is releasing this interview series in May, to reflect Afghan women’s continued resistance and resilience in the face of the Taliban’s ongoing war against them.

Search the site for posts and pages