The Taliban’s return on the heels of America’s exit from Afghanistan last month nails the coffin for Afghan women’s rights. Watching the news as a young woman in New York City is agonizing due to feelings of powerlessness and sympathy. The dichotomy of life in America and the reality in Afghanistan is glaring to me, and resentment for Afghan women’s barriers to opportunity swells up in me. We have to understand that women are highly important––both within the family unit and in society as a whole. 

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Malala Yousafzai, born and raised in Pakistan, came head-to-head with the Taliban in 2012 when she was shot for attending school. Her story rang all throughout the major news corps, yet more girls are going through similar experiences, and the number increases as the Taliban secures its former stronghold again. Many Americans on social media have lamented that the Taliban’s return makes the whole war pointless, and their frustration is understandable.

We live in a country where a movement like #MeToo has massive traction and support. Tarana Burke, Gloria Steinem, and Susan B. Anthony grace the halls of brave American women willing to enact social change at all costs. These female heroes serve as reminders that the fight for equal rights is hard but worth every struggle. As I watch the Taliban dismiss female workers . . .

. . . in the public and private sectors, I think about how valuable my professional and educational experiences have been. I can say with confidence that, if Afghan women were allowed to fully participate in their society, the region would be more developed economically and might even claim a seat at the table of global powers.

Afghanistan is a cautionary tale for all of us, especially when we still have a population like the Amish deprived of equal rights among the sexes.

The Wisconsin v. Yoder verdict is eerily similar to the Taliban mandate of no schooling for females, meaning that we as a nation are not completely removed from the reports of injustices on CNN and BBC. Malala was shot at age 15 for attending school and Torah Bontrager, an American citizen, was forced to flee in the middle of the night at age 15 just to have a chance at attending school past the Amish 8th grade. (Click here for Torah’s book and click here for Malala’s book.) Are we hypocritical? Yes. Yet most Americans are ignorant of Amish life and those who aren’t most likely have a false impression. 

Media is a powerful tool. Social media users are expressing outrage over Afghan women’s subjugation, and we have consistent stories from mainstream media to thank for this awareness. We can celebrate the fact that information travels easily across all borders, but it’s unsettling to know that most Amish abuse cases are unheard of. The current movement to support Afghan women’s rights, alongside others like #MeToo and Suffrage, inspires us to also carry the torch on behalf of Amish women and children. 

We can all do our part, from donating to the Amish Heritage Foundation or giving our time to volunteer on behalf of this wonderful organization. When we do so, we secure a future for Amish girls. A debate now rages over how effective America was in liberalizing Afghan society and although many say we failed, we still have a chance with communities on our own soil.

We cannot afford to waste that opportunity.  

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