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Zinat Karimi, 17, raises her hand during 10th-grade class at the Zarghoona high school in July in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

With the Taliban's declaration of victory in Afghanistan, Afghan women and girls face an uncertain future and stand to lose hard-won rights to education, employment and everyday freedoms.

Why it matters: Afghan women and girls described fear and a forced end to their lifelong ambitions.

  • “I am so worried about my future. It seems so murky," Wahida Sadeqi, a high school student in Kabul, told the New York Times ahead of the Taliban victory. "If the Taliban take over, I lose my identity.”
  • "[I] can no longer listen to my favourite songs, I can no longer meet my friends in our favourite cafe...And I can no longer go to my job or finish the university degree that I worked for years to achieve," a university student in Kabul wrote in the Guardian.

The big picture: According to Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan lawmaker and activist, Afghan women constitute the country's most at-risk population and the U.S. withdrawal from the country left many feeling betrayed.

  • Annie Pforzheimer, deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Kabul from 2017-18, told Axios' Dave Lawler that the Taliban will now reimpose restrictions on women and that there "should be absolutely no illusion that they have changed.”
  • Pforzheimer said these restrictions could mean that girls 15 years old and over could be married off to Taliban fighters, or that they won't be allowed to attend school past the age of 12, if at all.
  • "If they were attending university, such as in Herat, they have already been told not to return to classes. They have been told not to go to work," Pforzheimer said.
  • Many working women will be forced out of their jobs, she added. "Afghanistan will no longer have women businesspeople, judges or other representatives.”

State of play: As the Taliban captured successive provincial capitals in the past week, reports suggested that women's freedoms were already being curtailed.

  • In July, Taliban members in Kandahar and Herat forced women working in banks to leave their jobs, Reuters reported.
  • In Takhar province, a group of girls riding home in a rickshaw Friday were "stopped and lashed for wearing ‘revealing sandals,'" the Associated Press reported.
  • Ahead of the Taliban's arrival in Kabul, storefronts and beauty salons painted over the images of women in their advertisements.

What they're saying: “Now it looks like I have to burn everything I achieved in 24 years of my life," the university student in Kabul described in the Guardian, adding how she and her sisters rushed home ahead of the Taliban's arrival to hide their diplomas and certificates.

  • Zarifa Ghafari, Afghanistan’s youngest mayor and the first female mayor of Maidan Sharh province, told iNews that the Taliban "will come for people like me and kill me."
  • In a video circulating online, a young Afghan girl tearfully addresses the camera, "We don't count because we were born in Afghanistan. ... No one cares about us. We’ll die slowly in history.”
  • “How can it be possible for me as a woman who has worked so hard and tried to learn and advance, to now have to hide myself and stay at home?” a woman named Zahra told AP.
  • "We watch in complete shock as Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates," Malala Youfzezai tweeted Sunday, calling for humanitarian aid and protection of civilians.

Go deeper: Malala Yousafza calls on countries to open their borders to Afghan refugees

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2021 - World

Taliban exclude Afghan teen girls from attending school

Afghan female students attend a class in Herat on Aug. 22, 2020. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images.

The Taliban reopened Afghan secondary schools on Saturday for only boys, effectively banning teen girls from receiving a formal education, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The move raises new fears that the Taliban will break public promises and impose severe restrictions on women's rights similar to those implemented in the 1990s.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Pelosi's back-to-school math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she's promised Democratic centrists.

Why it matters: With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.