Afghan women share what their lives are really like under the Taliban


  1. Women from across Afghanistan have been telling us about their daily lives under Taliban rule
  2. A dressmaker, a teacher, a karate trainer, an audiobook narrator, a religious school teacher and a one-time national team golfer are among those we’ll hear from today
  3. Since seizing power in 2021, the ultra-conservative rulers have restricted women’s lives, closing most secondary schools to girls
  4. Women have been banned from going to university, stopped from entering parks and gyms and must observe strict dress codes
  5. About half the population face acute hunger and 97% are in poverty but in December the Taliban also banned female aid workers from doing their jobs
  6. The Taliban tell the BBC they will not lift the ban on female aid workers, despite the worse winter in a decade leaving at least 124 people dead


Hearing from Afghan women in their own words

Thank you for joining us today. We’ve been speaking to women all over Afghanistan who have told us about the way they now live after the Taliban took over more than a year ago.

  • psychologist spoke about teaching in a secret school so young women could learn about resilience
  • One former police officer says she no longer has a specific schedule and recalled being scared to tears over whether she would make it home as the Taliban re-took Afghanistan in August 2021
  • One, a religious school teacher, has also told us about the benefits of living under the new government
  • Some charities and non-profit organisations have had to pause delivering aid in the country as Afghan women are not currently able to work with them
  • The humanitarian situation in the country is dire, and it has been gripped by freezing temperatures with at least 124 people known to have died

This page was brought to you by Aakriti Thapar, Andrew Clarance, Mahfouz Zubaide, Jacky Martens, Sharanya Hrishikesh, Malu Cursino, Thomas Mackintosh and Gem O’Reilly; it was edited by Chris Giles, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman and Alexandra Fouché.

‘Day by day the situation gets tougher for women’ – psychologist

Let’s hear more from the psychologist and secret school teacher who spoke to us earlier. She has sent us a message, speaking about the sense of oppression for women in Afghanistan.

Quote Message: Day by day the situation gets tougher for women… and even the people who used to laugh, they are sad now, they are afraid of it and feel like what if we cannot go outside to bring bread for our families. For example there is a woman – she sells onions and potatoes. How would she work in such a situation? What will be the current and future situation of her children?

Quote Message: You can see children playing here but most of them don’t have enough clothes, shoes which are good for this winter situation.

Quote Message: I miss my loud laughs and I used to go without fear anywhere and anytime, but now I’m worried that I’m not able to raise my voice…if I do, no one will notice.

‘I was the sole bread winner… now I can’t do anything’

Earlier we brought you comments from the 23-year-old woman who worked as a police officer before the Taliban took over. She’s also a student but can no longer study since the Taliban banned university education for women last month.

Quote Message: “Unfortunately, one month ago all the schools, courses, universities and organisations for the female section were closed. I was left in a world of sorrow. Since I was the eldest in the family, all the responsibilities were on my shoulders, I was the sole bread winner of my family.”

Quote Message: Unfortunately, I can’t do anything anymore… the only place I could be was home, the only thing I can do now is house work. I no longer have a place in the outside world.”

‘This is the darkest time for women’s lives’ – former Afghan judge

Former Afghan judge, Marzia Babakarkhail, who now lives in Manchester, said: “This is a shocking time and the darkest time for women, women’s future and women’s education in Afghanistan.

She told the BBC’s Yalda Hakim there are a lot of different organisations offering women help with online courses or school studies.

But Babakarkhail explained many people are unable to take advantage: “There’s a lack of electricity, a lack of security and safety and some of the girls are not in the position to pay their internet bill.”

‘It is very difficult to live in this situation’ – golfer

More now from former golfer Shaista Safi who we’ve been hearing from today. She’s been reflecting on what life was like before the Taliban government takeover; during it and what the future holds for her and women like her in Afghanistan.

Quote Message: Before the Taliban takeover, I was thinking about progress and development because, at that time, women had their rights and played an active role in society, but at the moment I am very disappointed about the future.”

Quote Message: In a society where women have not yet been recognized, how can I think about progress and achieving my dreams? In this situation, our only hope is Allah [God]. I miss the working environment, safe environment, security, good economy, and travelling with friends.

Quote Message: I really wonder if these days will happen again. It is very difficult to live in the current situation, and only the one who lives here can understand it.”

‘We should start a conversation with the Taliban’

The BBC's Yalda Hakim (left) and Mahbouba Seraj

A women’s rights activist, Mahbouba Seraj, says dialogue with the Taliban government could improve the lives of women in Afghanistan.

“We should start a conversation with the Taliban and start a game of give and take, because this is not going the right way,” she told the BBC’s Yalda Hakim.

She said women were suffering at present, because they were being used as “political chips” even if the de facto authorities said that wasn’t the case.

“We are being played that way and that, honestly, for the women of this country, is becoming absolutely unbearable.”