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The Afghan Woman Leader Who Stayed Under Taliban Rule

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August 15, 2021 is a normal working day for Nilab Mobarez, Executive Director of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), a national humanitarian organization with more than 2,000 employees and thousands of volunteers across Afghanistan. was.

“We had a management meeting at 11 am, followed by some management routines,” Mobarez recalled of his last day on the job.

Around 12pm, a colleague showed her a text message on her cell phone. “The republic has fallen. The Taliban are in town,” she wrote.

What followed was a full breakdown of the institutions Afghanistan had managed to build with unprecedented international assistance. From 2002 to 2021, the United States, the European Union, and many other countries and organizations spent billions of dollars to create and strengthen Afghanistan’s viable national institutions.

A surgeon and educated administrator, Movares was appointed Executive Director of ARCS in 2017. Her position enabled her to operate on both sides of the war and to provide humanitarian assistance even in Taliban-controlled areas.

On the day of the collapse, most government officials – ministers, lawmakers, judges, governors – rushed to the airport and followed President Ashraf Ghani, who fled by helicopter with his wife and close associates, but Mobares decided to stay. .put.

“What happened at Kabul airport last August was a gross affront to our national dignity,” she said of the confused evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghan citizens during US military flights.

U.S. officials say the largest evacuation by U.S. forces to date was a successful operation, protecting displaced Afghans from possible persecution by the Taliban. Despite declaring amnesty, the Taliban have been accused of targeting some members of the former Afghan security forces, due to Taliban strife.

“In such humiliating conditions, how could a foreign army put thousands of citizens on a plane without passports and visas?” added.

“This is my country, and if I don’t stick to it in difficult times, who will?”

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Living under Taliban rule for more than a year, unemployed and caring for her elderly father, a former deputy minister in the Afghan government, Mobares still defends her decision not to leave the country. I’m here.

“Taliban officials have not contacted me,” Movares said.

The Taliban’s leadership and cabinet are made up entirely of men, which imposes many restrictions on women’s education and work.

Taliban Afghanistan is the only country where girls are banned from entering secondary schools, public parks, sports centers and appearing on television without face masks.

A friend recently told Movares that Taliban officials rejected her application for renewal of her driver’s license without explanation, but she is still driving in Kabul with an expired license.

The Taliban have not officially announced a ban on women driving, but it is understood that if girls are not allowed to enroll in secondary school, they will not be allowed to sit in the driver’s seat either.

“The Taliban don’t look at us as if we don’t exist for them…sometimes I feel like an invisible presence.”

Human rights activists say the Taliban have effectively erased women from public space in Afghanistan.

“But there are women who give me hope and courage just by being here.

Like a handful of other Afghan women’s rights activists, Mobareth says that a radical change in the status of Afghan women needs to come from within Afghanistan.

“Only real Loya Jirga [grand assembly] If at least 30 percent of women participate, we can chart a constitutional course for Afghanistan’s future,” she said.

However, Taliban leaders insist that only the legitimacy of Islam, and not a vote from the citizens, is required to govern the country, so under current Taliban rule, such a path is unavoidable. seems unlikely.

“It will be a long and difficult road, but we can only make it through perseverance and dedication,” said Movares.

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