From the Frontlines to the Headlines in Afghanistan
Dr. Lauryn Oates is the Executive Director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), a not-for-profit organization comprising Canadians working in partnership with Afghan women toward improving conditions of human rights, ending women’s oppression and providing opportunities for Afghan women to live their lives with dignity, certainty and purpose.  Its main program areas include: (1) Investments in Basic Education; (2) Community Libraries, Literacy and Books; (3) Technology for Education; (4) Public Engagement; and (5) Afghanistan Policy Dialogue. 
Lauryn spoke to our Club in August 2016 and August 2019.  On September 22nd, 2021, approximately 5 weeks after the Taliban seized power, this is what she had to say regarding the evolving situation in Afghanistan.  
Despite having contacts on the ground, CW4WAfghan didn’t see the total collapse coming on August 15th.  Some districts were reportedly taken by as few as 4 rebels.  Younger Afghans were even more frightened than Afghans who had seen the Taliban in control 20 years ago.  
Women are feeling loss and hopelessness as a result of what’s happened since that time. The Taliban have removed all women from government, job losses have occurred on a large scale with women disproportionately affected, girls can go to school only until Grade 6, and women can continue attending University only if they are separated from men, which is not possible in most cases.  Residents can only withdraw the equivalent of $200 per week from banks and the passport office has been closed.   The Taliban seem to have no consistent policy, and, despite what they say publicly, there is real concern they will revert to old ways.  Feeling that they have nothing more to lose, there have been wide-spread, women-led protests.  
Despite these circumstances, CW4WAfghan remains committed to its mission of promoting the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, through ensuring access to quality educational opportunities, and finding ways to help and stay connected with Afghan women and their families during this period of uncertainty.  While Lauryn’s presentation outlined a very dark and terrifying future for women in Afghanistan, the strength and determination of CW4WAfghan to support these women and their families is inspiring.  To support this important work or to find out more, please visit their website: