NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With American support, women and girls in Afghanistan have made tremendous strides in the last two decades.
But with U.S. troops leaving the country, there is growing concern women will again be suppressed and not allowed to work or go to school, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Tuesday.
Paintings promoting girl power line the halls of the Women for Afghan Women community center in Fresh Meadows, Queens.
The advocacy organization also has a presence in 14 provinces in Afghanistan, providing things like emergency shelter, counseling and literacy education. But now, most of the thousands of staff and clients have been evacuated and sent to Kabul.
“Every single resource we have right now is devoted to the safety, just staying alive, of our people,” said Sunita Viswanath, the board chair of Women for Afghan Women.
And millions of Afghan women fear they won’t be allowed to work or go to school, as it was before 2001 when the Taliban was in power.
On Monday, Afghan journalist Nazira Karimi made an emotional plea to the Pentagon to preserve women’s rights.
“I had a lot of achievement. I left from the Taliban like 20 years ago. Now, we go back to the first step again,” Karimi said.
But this time, the Taliban is promising to “allow” girls to go to school, and women to work.
One woman who was educating girls in Kandahar fled the southern city after it was seized by the Taliban last week. She told CBS News what she feared.
“They find me, they make me suffer. One day, two day, three day, I’m gonna die,” Pashtana Durrani said.
One 8-year-old lost her leg in a Taliban attack on her village, but she told CBS News she is most frightened of not being allowed back to school to become a doctor.
On Tuesday, the White House addressed the issue.
“It doesn’t mean because we don’t have forces in that country that we’re not going to fight on behalf of women and girls,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, in Queens, Viswanath said, “This center is preparing itself to be there as a backbone, a welcoming committee, a home away from home of Afghanistan for what we hope will be thousands and thousands of incoming refugees in America, but in New York particularly.”
The center is working around the clock and looking to hire a full-time lawyer to help process all the asylum paperwork to help as many families as possible.
To help organizations like the Queens one featured in Rozner’s story, please click here.