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An ordinary day in the life of a woman under the Taliban 5

The lives of many women have been wrecked during the two-and-a-half years of Taliban rule. Our journalists asked eight women to recount their activities on a typical day living under Taliban gender apartheid in Afghanistan.  


January 29, 2024 

10:14 a.m. 

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I try to get ready and go to the training centre early. There, they teach us first aid and injections for emergencies. Before the Taliban came to power and closed the university to girls, I dreamed of studying medicine. This training centre was established by a foreign NGO three months ago. The training period is short. Strict rules are also enforced here. For example, no one can wear clothes or shoes in any colour other than black. We must wear masks daily. We are studying in secret. If the Taliban finds out, they will never allow it and would lock the gate of the training centre. 

They sealed our English language school that same way. Our teachers were threatened and warned. The Taliban said, “English is a blasphemous language, and we should not learn it.” After that, we took classes online. I am used to studying. It has opened my eyes and heart. I spent two years of my life without school and university. My brother and father were looking for me to get engaged while I was studying day and night. Then the Taliban ruined everything. I was second at my training centre and always an honour student in my school. The progress of a country depends on the education and training of all children, whether boys or girls. But the blind Taliban cannot see this.  

12:00 p.m. (Lunch) 

Our class ends at 12:00 p.m. As I go home, it’s like I’ve lost something. I’m not in my mind. Maybe it’s because today, for the first time, I thought about what I call the misery of my life. My mind is all about why this happened to us. Why couldn’t I strive to achieve my dreams like an average human? 

2:45 p.m. 

I am sitting in a corner of the room, with my book open. I have to carefully read what is being taught to us. My only goal is to become a doctor. Although my family is thinking about my marriage, I will not accept it because I have worked hard. I studied for two full years. I only slept four hours a night and prepared for the university entrance exam. I never thought that education would be banned for me one day. It was hard to imagine that everything would stop, but it happened. My life has stopped. How can these bigots deprive us women, who have worked twice as hard as men and overcome many obstacles, of our rights? 

3:45 p.m. 

I fell asleep for a few minutes. My alarm went off, and I woke up. I have to go teach my aunt’s two children when they come home from school. I get 2000 afghani a month, which pays my own expenses and internet for my online classes. I wear a black burqa. My scarf and mask must also be black. My aunt’s house is far away, and I must walk at least 20 minutes. I’m afraid a Taliban will stop me on the road and ask where I’m going with the books. I don’t feel safe walking on the street. 

We are the only country in the world where educated women are imprisoned at home. We are house prisoners and cannot use our abilities and talents. 

8:35 p.m. 

I have a book in my hand, and I am studying. My brother came into the room and said, “Enough, you have killed yourself studying. Why are you doing it? It is useless anyway. The Taliban has finished you girls’ story, don’t bother yourself anymore.” I was silent and sad because he didn’t understand me either. When night falls, I think about what I have learned.  

What if my time is wasted and I sit in a corner of the house? Every moment, I am reminded of the Taliban’s restrictions and why we are treated like this. Why did society become male while we were a part of the same society just a couple of years ago? But now we are nothing, and men are also silent, and if women want to protest, they are suppressed. All the country’s educated, women and men, now think of running away. 

Before the Taliban came to power, I used to go to school in the morning and to the university entrance exam preparation class in the afternoon. I worked hard and was the top student in my school and training centre. I used to review my lessons on time and do my homework. I was happy and excited, and I was getting ready for tomorrow.  

Before the end of today, I used to plan for tomorrow. But, with the arrival of the Taliban, not only our today has been ruined, but our past has also been wasted, and our future is doomed: our efforts and our possessions. We are all in a corner of the house, and the illiterate and the literate are now the same. 

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee. Masooda is the pseudonym for an 18-year-old woman who was a student before the Taliban returned to power and who dreamed of becoming a doctor.  

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