When Women Can’t Work

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    An Afghan woman walks through a market as a Taliban fighter stands guard in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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    A Save the Children nutrition counselor, right, talks to Nelab, 22, about how to feed her 11-month-old daughter in the Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan on September 29, 2022. (Save the Children via AP)
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    People wait to receive food rations from a South Korean humanitarian aid group in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 10, 2022. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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    A Save the Children midwife provides Zarmina, 25, who is five months pregnant, with a pre-natal check-up in northern Afghanistan on October 2, 2022. (Save the Children via AP)
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    Afghan women students stand outside Kabul University in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 21, 2022. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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When women can’t do their work, things fall apart.

Taliban leaders took over Afghanistan in 2021. They began making laws about women. Their enforcement of Sharia law meant girls couldn’t go to middle school, high school, or college. Women had to wear coverings from head to toe in public and couldn’t go to parks, gyms, or other public spaces. At first, women weren’t allowed to work alongside men. Now they can’t hold non-government jobs at all.

Non-government organizations (NGOs) play a critical role in the survival of needy Afghans. When the Taliban took power, many Afghans hoped to escape the country but could not. Groups from around the world sent help.

NGOs supply Afghans—many of them women—with jobs giving assistance to others. When these women can’t use their gifts to bless others through NGOs, everyone pays the price. Many more Afghans are left without food, medicine, and opportunities for education.

Genesis tells us that “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) He made men and women to bless each other, tending His world together while displaying the image of their Father. All are gifted differently and deeply loved by their Maker. To act as if some people have no value goes directly against God’s heart, and leads to evil.

If women cannot help in Afghanistan, things will get worse. Thousands of people could die. “They have been targeting women from the beginning,” one Afghan NGO worker says of the Taliban. (Her name is kept secret for her own safety.) “Why are they making enemies of women? Don’t they have wives, sisters, and mothers?”

When the Taliban restricted women from NGO work, many foreign organizations stopped supplying help to Afghanistan, meaning to send the message that the new strictures are unacceptable.

Still, women in some local organizations try to keep their work going, laboring in secret, and paying their staff with donated money for as long as it lasts.

The NGO worker mentioned above helps women start businesses and get an education. She wanted to go to the office one last time to collect her laptop. But her director warned her that armed Taliban were standing outside the building.

She remains determined to continue helping others, even from home.

“It is my responsibility to take the hand of women and girls and provide services for them,” she says. “I will work until the end of my life. This is why I am not leaving Afghanistan. If we fail, all women fail.”

Why? All people are made in God’s image. When we as individuals or as societies don’t value all life and the gifts unique individuals bring, harm follows.

Pray that Afghan women will be able to do the good work God made them to do, and that wicked rulers will come to know Jesus.