As the Taliban take back control of Afghanistan - many are particularly concerned for the nation's women. The country's new leaders have claimed they will honor women's rights "within the norms of Islamic law," but whether that means women can continue to enjoy all the freedoms they've had for the past twenty years is still open to question.
Afghan MP and women's rights campaigner Farzana Elham joins The Agenda's Stephen Cole to outline her real fears for the future.
MEET THE EXPERT
Elham is a Member of the Afghan Parliament. She was elected as a member of Wolasi Jirga in May 2019, representing the Kochi nomads.
She has dedicated her life to speaking out about violence against women and girls and works toward peacebuilding that recognizes the importance of women's inclusion. In her role as Member of Parliament, she has amplified her calls for equality and further advocates for the rights of minority groups (the Kochi people), particularly their rights to be meaningfully included in the peace process.
WHAT DOES ELHAM SAY?
Farzana Elham tells Cole that the arrival of the Taliban happened much sooner than anticipated:
"I believed that even if [the Taliban] won the war, I was expecting them to be here in two years, at least some months but it happened so fast. It shocked everyone."
On what the future may hold for women in Afghanistan, Elham - who has dedicated much of her career working towards female inclusion - says she struggles to see hope.
"I am concerned about what will happen to the women of Afghanistan - whether they'll have a right to, or access to, education, a right to participate in society, a right to do what they want, their jobs or whether they will be locked in their houses.
"The safety and security of [Afghan] women is so important."
Elham told Stephen she doesn't feel safe, that "every minute" she expects something to happen. She says she is trying to remain "strong and ready for the things I'm not expecting," adding "I'm scared."
When asked what the Taliban must do to gain support, Elham says they need to gain trust and "offer something different from the last time" to develop good diplomatic relations with the international community.
"Do something that makes sure Afghanistan is not changing back to a threat to the world again, by allowing young generations the rights that they deserve and those things that make a community, a country, a society, the best, [one where] everyone can speak up."
ALSO ON THE AGENDA:
· General Richard Barrons, former commander of the British Army's Joint Forces Command shares his views on the speed of the Taliban takeover, and what it might mean for future Western military engagements.
· Award-winning journalist Jim Laurie – the only US reporter to remain in Saigon after its fall in 1975 – joins us to consider how events in Kabul might impact America's military and diplomatic image across the world.