One year ago today, Naheed Farid saw more than a decade of advocacy on behalf of Afghanistan’s women and girls collapse.
As a lawmaker in the lower house of Afghanistan’s national assembly for 11 years, Farid had worked to preserve and expand opportunities that she herself lived without during teenage years spent under Taliban rule. But on August 15, 2021, the same group that terrorized Farid’s adolescence swept Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul after months of encircling and capturing provincial capitals across the country. The same day, which the Taliban have since declared a national public holiday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the U.S. military began its ill-fated noncombatant military evacuation operation (NEO).
On August 26, with the U.S. full withdrawal date approaching, an Islamic State suicide bombing outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport left more than 160 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members dead and many more injured.
By month’s end, any Afghans remaining in-country—including U.S. partners, ethnic and religious minorities, and women and girls—fell under the Taliban’s extremist rule with few pathways of escape. An associate of Farid’s, a woman who previously worked for a U.S. contractor, is among them. The Taliban attacked her in her own home last month. She’s been in hiding ever since.