Afghan women hold protest demanding education, jobs under Taliban

Around 50 Afghan women in the city of Herat held a protest Thursday, demanding work opportunities and education for their daughters under the new Taliban regime.

As Agence France-Presse reported, the women gathered in the streets chanting, "It is our right to have education, work and security."

Fereshta Taheri, one of the demonstrators, told the media outlet via telephone that they were fighting for their rights, saying, "We are even ready to wear burqas if they tell us, but we want the women to go to school and work."

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The international community has repeatedly raised concerns for the rights of women and girls after the Taliban took the capital of Kabul in August, ending the Western-backed, democratically elected Afghan government.

The Taliban have signaled that they will be more moderate and inclusive than when the group held control in the 90's, when women were largely forbidden from education and essentially trapped at home without a man to escort them outside.

In August, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said women would to have access to work and education.

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“They can be doctors, teachers, be educated and can work to benefit society," Mujahid said. “They are our sisters, we must show them respect. They should not be frightened. The Taliban are humans and from this country. They fought for our country. Women should be proud of us, not scared."

International observers, however, have expressed skepticism at the Taliban's assurances. As Agence France-Presse reported, women at the protest also called into question these claims of inclusivity.

"We follow the news, and we don't see any women in Taliban meetings and gatherings," protester Mariam Ebram said.

"The talks are ongoing to form a government, but they are not talking about women's participation," Basira Taheri, one of the rally's organizers, told the news outlet. "We want to be part of the government — no government can be formed without women. We want the Taliban to hold consultations with us."

Afghan women who spoke to The Hill last month warned the international community against placing trust in the Taliban's words.

“I want to see if women are able to sing on stage without a scarf. I want to know if a man or woman can stand next to each other and sing on TV. I want to see women play at the soccer stadium. That is the level of freedom I want in that country if I want to live under their flag," one Afghan women said.

Shortly after Kabul fell, a group of women held a protest in the city, also demanding that women and girls have access to work and education.