Nearly 20 years after U.S. forces led an invasion of Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime for harboring Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, educated women are now bracing themselves to defend the gains they have made, NBC News reports.
The arrival of American boots on the ground triggered a huge change for many mostly-urban women and girls, sweeping out the Taliban’s strict version of Islam that restricted women’s rights and ushering in a constitution that enshrined equal rights for men and women.
Women went from being practically invisible in public life to re-entering schools and universities, becoming members of Parliament and returning to the office.
The militants currently control or contest more than half the country, and many women fear that they will attempt to reinstate their draconian rule if they return to power nationally. Under their regime, girls were barred from attending school and women were not allowed to work outside the home or to appear in public without an all-encompassing body covering and a male escort. Violators of these rules or edicts were flogged in public, or executed.