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WOMENS WORDS

A thousand days later, in the country where it’s a crime to be a woman

Today I am presenting a report from a country in which women have had no access to their essential rights of education, work, or free movement for more than 1,000 days.


There are still no HUMAN rights or WOMEN’S rights in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s control.


Yal Bano: my role as an activist


I am an Afghan women’s rights activist. When I was in Afghanistan, I graduated from an engineering faculty and had a job after graduation. After the Taliban took over, life changed for me, and I thought I had lost all my hopes and achievements during those years. Yes, during the first months I cried a lot. I was trapped in a very hard depression, and everything looked hopeless to me.


But then I thought about what my responsibilities might be in this situation. And I said to myself:

“As a high percentage of Afghans, especially women, are not educated, you, as part of society, can stand up with them. You should not cry anymore, just forget how sad you are. Just start to help and be with other women in this hard time”.


When I had the idea, I shared it with trusted friends of mine, both men and women and they said they would be very happy and proud to join me. At first there were six of us: four women and two men. There is one man in particular whose support for women has been wonderful from the start. We really appreciate him; his name is Mirwais Nabizada, and his help and support has been great.


Yes, we all know the situation is dangerous but to be silent is not the solution. We know the Taliban actively search for all who work or talk against them. But all the times I felt the threat and endured scary situations, I said to myself, “Yes, I am in danger, but I can’t stop. The Taliban are liars who want to fight for power.” I lived in hiding, fighting for my life and the lives of other women in Afghanistan.”


We worked in Afghanistan to help Afghan women with their studies as a secret school. We raised our voices for Afghan women. I heard stories of women and we cried to show we are with women, and we shared the message of hope and to be strong with each other. And we helped families in need with food and urgent necessities.


When I was in Afghanistan, the Taliban were searching for me, and I received warnings, but even after these warnings I wasn’t silent. But it is easy for the Taliban to kill those who work or talk against them. Because of me, my siblings and parents were also under direct threat. We were not safe. I worked to hide my identity and my parents’ identity. I was hiding from the Taliban, but I always felt that one day they would kill me or my family members. 


When the situation became even harder and more restricted, my only option was to flee. I will never forget the terror I felt when I fled at 2 am from Afghanistan.


But when I got to a new country…


Life in a new country is not easy! Everything is new, and I was faced with a big culture shock.

During the first months I cried a lot and had no contact with my family. Nothing was normal and things were harder for me. First, the station of Afghan women I had left behind, still under Taliban control. Second, my flight from Afghanistan which had taken me away from my family. And third, a new life with a new culture. Figuring out how to start back up again from zero, to get back to something like a normal life.


But after a while I just told myself, “Crying is not the solution! Start acting like a strong woman, just forget what is going on for you, you are just one, but 1,000 women are looking to you to have a big smile and keep going to help and work for Afghan women”.


In my new life in the new country, I started to study, updated my CV, and attended English classes. I also started to learn driving and to learn about life in my new country. After some months, I was successful in my exams and got a job in engineering. It is very hard for a refugee to get a job in their own field of study, but hard work pays off.


On weekdays, at 6 am I take a bus to work until 6 pm. Then I take a bus to English class and finally I come home at 9:30 pm and have something to eat.


I feel very tired, but I act very strong


Due to the time difference between Afghanistan and the country I am in, two nights of the week I am awake all night because I teach classes to help students in Afghanistan.


I feel very tired, but I never tell or show to my students that I need sleep. I enjoy it so much when I hear from them and when they speak in class that I get energised and I feel proud.

If I didn’t keep helping my students, I would blame myself for their plight, and say to myself, “You fled and you left Afghan women lonely in Afghanistan”.


I was in Afghanistan, so I completely understand that they really need someone to be with them. So that is why I see them as more important than getting rest. Fortunately, our group is getting bigger with trusted women and men to help.


Currently, we have 150 students in our learning programme, with others on the waiting list. We don’t receive financial help from anywhere. Our work is completely voluntary. If any brave women want to help students directly with their studies, we really appreciate it.


Our programme’s name is Beautiful Afghanistan. We mainly help Afghan students with their studies, but we also help women’s families if they are in urgent need. And we raise our voice to the world so everyone can hear what is going on for Afghan women.


If you have any questions, want to join to help students with their studies, or want to support a family in need, feel free to get in touch. You can email us at:




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