Afghan women carry guns in streets, protest Taliban as country struggles

Women have taken up arms in heavily-contested regions of Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to make nationwide gains during the U.S. military’s withdrawal.

The U.S. continued its drawdown of troops, keeping to President Biden’s promised deadline, which aims for a full withdrawal by Sept. 11 – a date he said Thursday would now be Aug. 31. However, Afghanistan has already struggled to stand on its own.

Government forces have already withdrawn from seven districts, focusing troops and resources around holding the capital province of Badakhshan.

“There were some women who just wanted to inspire security forces, just symbolic, but many more were ready to go to the battlefields,” said Halima Parastish, head of the women’s directorate in Ghor. “That includes myself.”

“I and some other women told the governor around a month ago that we’re ready to go and fight,” Parastish said.

The Taliban have already introduced severe restrictions against women’s rights in areas they control, including education, freedom of movement and attire, activists and residents claim.