“I am angry with the whole world, especially Biden”: a prominent Afghan women’s rights activist

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FRANCE 24 spoke to Mahbouba Siraj, a leading women’s rights activist in Afghanistan. She told us that the Taliban must “surrender” on “red lines” such as women’s access to education and work to “continue governance.” With Afghanistan in dire need of financial assistance, Siraj said she was “outraged at the whole world,” especially US President Joe Biden. “You cannot let the people of this country die,” she said in an emotional plea to the international community.

Mahbouba Siraj, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Center in Kabul, decided to stay in Afghanistan after the Taliban took power in August 2021. She told France 24 she did so because she believed “deep down” her experience as a seasoned activist. They were “necessary” to defend women’s rights.

Our guest said that full access to education and jobs were her main “red lines” when it came to women’s rights in Afghanistan. She added that the jury is still out on whether the Taliban will allow women to attend school and work, saying the moment of truth will come in March at the end of winter, when schools are set to fully reopen.

Siraj urged women to continue to defend their rights, including freedom of expression. She criticized US President Joe Biden for essentially abandoning Afghanistan and added that she was tired of all the talk about recognizing or not recognizing the Taliban and preventing much-needed financial assistance.


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