We support women and girls in war and crisis zones
29. August 2022 - Interview

Humaira Rasuli: “Afghan women are not giving up – they are demanding social participation and their right to education.”

One year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the rights of women and girls have been massively restricted. They have been banned from public life and excluded from social participation. We want to draw attention to the successes and perseverance of Afghan women’s rights activists. One of them is Humaira Rasuli. The human rights lawyer and founder of an Afghan non-governmental organisation reports on her women’s rights work from exile.

Portrait photo of Humaira Rasuli
Humaira Rasuli is an Afghan activist and human rights lawyer. She lives in the USA.

What hopes do you have for Afghanistan and the women who still live there?

All girls should be allowed to attend school and university. All women should immediately be allowed to return to their work without any preconditions, in order to continue their work in the capacity they had before August 2021.

What kind of women’s rights work can still be done at all in Afghanistan at the moment?

I am teaching Afghan law students online, preparing them to represent survivors of violence. I am advising others on how to represent women and survivors of injustice and violence. As the founder of a local organisation active inside Afghanistan, I am also involved in the safety-related arrangements and I take part in weekly conversations with the team in our office in Kabul. Their circumstances in Afghanistan are dire. I am committed to standing up for women’s rights. I empower my fellow sisters by setting up networks to provide moral and technical support to activists.

What is your wish for the future?

I have serious concerns about the situation in Afghanistan in general and for women and girls in particular. But it gives me hope when I see that women are not giving up. They continue to lead campaigns, protests and advocacy events in order to call for women’s inclusion in society and the continuation of work and education for women. It is humbling to see their amazing courage and commitment to fight against abusive power and violence.

What is the biggest challenge for you currently?

Every day I feel very emotionally conflicted. I am so grateful and relieved that my family and I are safe and comfortable in America. At the same time, I feel so much guilt for being so safe because I left the situation in Afghanistan behind.

What can international women’s rights organisations worldwide do to support Afghan women and girls?

We would like to see women’s rights organisations help establish a platform to enable exiled women to come into contact and share with each other. Together, we can challenge the Taliban leaders with our concerns and proposals for the rule of law, access to justice and inclusive governance, as well as fundamental human rights, freedom, and full and equal participation of people in social, economic and political life. We need international organisations to contribute to the Afghan women’s movement with funding as well as technical and moral support. I believe women’s organisations are the only spaces left for Afghan women and girls to come together.