Comment When I visited Kabul ten years ago, the girls were boxing in the city stadium – now the voice of women is gone, and this will eventually lead to the defeat of the Taliban as well.

When the school winter holidays end in March, the Taliban regime has no choice but to open school doors for girls and boys of all ages, writes HS journalist and photographer Kaisa Rautaheimo, who monitors the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Afghan people way to congratulate relatives, acquaintances and neighbors when the first snow rains. In Kabul, it happened a few weeks ago.

Residents of the capital are already waiting for snow. It usually rains earlier.

Still, the country is promising a colder winter than ever before. This is due to the Taliban’s rise to power, which has been followed by the collapse of virtually the entire state.

Afghanistan the economy is stuck and the humanitarian situation is catastrophic.

Uncertainty about the new rules of the new administration adds to human suffering.

The Taliban has been intervening almost every week in matters related to the existence and living of women and girls since last fall.

It has been said, among other things, that women are not allowed to move more than 72 kilometers from their homes without a male escort and that pictures of women should not appear in the streetscape of cities.

The new rules have been outrageous, especially for the educated population in the country’s capital.

There is still no unequivocal decision on big things like the schooling of girls over the age of 12 or the ability of women to do the work they want.

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The previous one once, ten years ago, I met women in Kabul who worked as MPs, police officers and civil servants. The girls were boxing at Kabul Stadium.

When I returned to Afghanistan last November with a reporter Maria Mannerin with, the voice of these women had disappeared.

Women were rarely seen on the streets of the capital.

Some have left the country or are planning to do so. Others have hid in their homes and destroyed their past in their distress for fear of revenge on the Taliban.

Few have dared to take to the streets to protest their rights.

Many feel that the Taliban regime is going back hundreds of years. This is sure to happen if schools don’t open to girls and boys of all ages this winter.

The first snow fell on Kabul on 15 December.

In late autumn When we visited Kabul, the temperature went to frost at night.

There was a burning plague in the air, and the city was surrounded by clouds of smoke. The children gathered from the streets to find anything they could burn in order to bring warmth to their homes.

In a country like Afghanistan, the seasons matter.

At the end of November, schools will close because there is no heating in public buildings. Schoolchildren are on winter vacation for three months.

In a mountainous country, many areas remain under siege for the winter months. People are quieting their homes and focusing on taking care of their basic needs, warmth and food.

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For decades, winter has also meant a ceasefire in battles. A spring attack is usually declared in April or May, at the initiative of either group. This has marked the beginning of the annual fighting season, which has lasted again until the next winter break.

The Taliban says control over women and girls is ideological, but it is certainly also political.

Various perspectives have been put forward as to why the Taliban have made such vague statements about girls ’schooling and women’s employment.

On the one hand, the Taliban are estimated to be seeking to expand their bargaining power vis-à-vis the international community.

On the other hand, the vagueness is believed to be due to the internal fragmentation of the Taliban, where the more reformist and conservative wing of the mixed faction contrasts.

Restricting the rights of women and girls has traditionally strengthened political power in Afghanistan. This is estimated to have happened now.

In a strongly male-dominated society, the Taliban strengthens leadership in the eyes of the people by trampling on the rights of women and girls.

The former Ministry of Women has been abolished and is now replaced by the Ministry of Virtue and Evil.

Playing the right of girls to go to school and study a profession of their choice is extremely cruel. In that game, the Taliban have nothing to lose.

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The country is already suffering from a lack of education in advance. According to a recent UNESCO report, much progress has been made over the past 20 years, but still only 30 percent of women could read in 2018.

Afghanistan has a shortage of skilled labor in all sectors of society. The fact that most of the educated population fled the evacuation flights at the end of August did not really make it any easier.

When the snow leaves, more educated people will leave if the country’s new leaders do not work for their people.

With the brain drain, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Taliban to bring to the country the development that Afghanistan desperately needs.

By closing girls and women from public life The Taliban would make the country a rejection state in the eyes of other countries.

This would be a death blow to Afghanistan, which is almost entirely dependent on foreign aid.

In March, temperatures will rise, and it’s time for schools to reopen their doors.

Kaisa Rautaheimo will monitor the development of the status of women and girls in Afghanistan until the end of August 2022, among other tasks. HS has appointed a special editor for the year, and Maria Manner has previously held the position. Send chat tips to Rautaheimo at kaisa.rautaheimo@hs.fi.

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