An Afghan woman who set up a non-profit organization to educate girls and women says she will fight to continue teaching, even in the face of opposition from the Taliban.
Pashtana Durrani, the founder and CEO of Learn, spoke to Yahoo News from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.
“I’m not afraid, because fear is only good when you fear God, not people,” Durrani said.
If the militant group tries to stop women and girls from learning in schools and leaving the house, Durrani says, she will try to provide digital lessons to women across the country.
“If [the Taliban stop us] we have to evolve, ”said Durrani. “We have to come up with different strategies.
“If they do not let us have physical classes, we will go online,” the activity activist said. “Everything has a solution and we will continue to work on it.”
Durrani, who received the Malala Fund Education Champion Award for his work in Learn, is currently hiding after Taliban fighters seized the capital Kabul, took over the presidential palace and declared victory on Sunday.
Her comments came a day after a spokesman for the Taliban was pressured on the rights of women and girls during their rule at a press conference on Tuesday.
Under their previous regime in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, the militant group introduced strict rules and punishments under their strict interpretation of sharia. The law serves both as the basic religious moral code of Islam and holistic rules that apply to all areas of life, including religious obligations, daily routines, and personal beliefs.
Women were to wear the all-encompassing burqa, girls aged 10 and over were stopped from going to school, and women unaccompanied in public places could be beaten.
During the press conference, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tried to clarify fears of women’s rights under the new regime, saying that if Afghan women “continue to live according to Sharia … we will be happy, they will be happy.”
“We want to allow women to work and study within our framework,” he said. “Women want to be very active in our society.”
But Durrani said she did not believe the Taliban’s attitude towards women would change.
“Right now, those words are not what’s happening on earth,” Durrani told Yahoo News. “Right now girls are at home, some girls are not going to university.
“[The Taliban] I have said this many times that ‘we are going to respect human rights, women’s rights and education rights’, but I want to see something concrete in action, “she said.
Durrani has spoken to the media at a time when many women in the country are afraid to speak out.
She said she does not want media coverage of the country to be dictated by men.
“Now is the time we take our seats, we raise our voices, we make sure we are heard,” she told Yahoo News. “And someone has to talk; if I do not speak right now, my university will never open again. ”
Despite the fact that her own family and friends have expressed concerns about her well-being, Durrani is still resilient.
“[The Taliban] leaders do not want to be ashamed of the whole world for murdering me, ”she said,“ but then there are foot soldiers who want to kill someone who has Westernized ideas or who are asking for freedoms.
“I have to keep my hope, because one way or another, women are strong, they are violent, they are educated, and they want to make sure we get through this together,” Durrani said. “If anyone is weak, if anyone is scared, if anyone is scared, we will make sure we stand together and we will make sure we stand next to each other, we will get through this.”
The recall of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan marks the end of nearly 20 years of a US-led coalition presence in the country.
President Biden has been criticized by some for what they see as a disorganized pull of US troops in the region, which has led to instability.
Durrani said Biden’s actions were “very unworthy” and that she believes the president could have done much more to stop the Taliban from using power.
“[Biden] could have used the political influence and leverage in Doha to push [the Taliban] to accept women’s rights, educational rights and at the same time get them to put it into practice, “she said, referring to the agreement the United States signed with the Taliban last year.
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