Zuraida Says She Is Interested In Guiding Taliban On How To Empower Women In Afghanistan

According to Zuraida, Malaysia, as a modernising Islamic nation, can share many things with the Taliban.

Cover image via Reuters & Zuraida Kamaruddin (Facebook)

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Ampang member of Parliament (MP) Zuraida Kamaruddin has expressed her willingness to visit Afghanistan in order to guide the Taliban on how to optimise the role of women in various fields

The Taliban, a militant Islamic group that ran Afghanistan in the late 1990s, has again taken control of the country this month as the American soldiers withdrew after a costly two-decade war.

The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country, saying he had chosen to leave to avoid further bloodshed.

In light of the latest developments, Zuraida, who was Malaysia's former minister of housing and local government in the previous Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, has noted that the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan will undeniably lead to hostility towards progress and women's rights there.

Describing the Taliban's previous rule as "extreme and backward", the Bersatu leader has called for international pressure to ensure that the group will not oppress women in Afghanistan.

Malaysiakini reported Zuraida saying that she has personally witnessed the Taliban's extremism.

"I saw the condition of women and girls in the country. Women are generally treated as second-class citizens and their rights denied by the (Taliban) government," she was quoted as saying.

"While we disagree with US imperialism, we are also worried about Afghanistan's future, particularly for women who were previously oppressed by the Taliban."

The Malaysian politician has therefore suggested that other Muslim countries should send missions to educate the Taliban on women's empowerment and that she would be willing to visit Afghanistan.

A Taliban fighter stands guard at the main gate leading to the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on 16 August.

Image via Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

Zuraida believes Malaysia has many things to share with the Taliban

"As a modernising Islamic country, there are many things we can share with them, especially on how to optimise the role of women in administration, politics, education, economics, and social, which are in line with the true teachings of Islam," she was quoted as saying in a report by Malay Mail on 20 August.

While admitting that such a mission will be a challenging one, Zuraida stressed that it was an obligation to try and ensure there will be acceptable pathways for Afghani women and girls.

"Every country should be governed by its own people and foreign powers should not interfere. However, when the government of a country holds to an ideology that is too extreme, the global community has a responsibility to defend the rights of women and girls," the 63-year-old politician said.

Zuraida's comments come after Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's spokesman, assured on Tuesday, 17 August, that women's rights will be protected and that they will be allowed to work and study

In the first news conference following the takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban promised that the rights of women in Afghanistan will be respected "within the framework of Islamic law".

"We are going to allow women to work and study. We have got frameworks, of course. Women are going to be very active in the society but within the framework of Islam," Zabihullah said.

He said the group won't "discrimination against women" but did not provide details about dress codes and what roles women would be able to have within the country's workforce.

Press conferences aside, the reality is different for the women on the ground as a number of them have been blacklisted by the Taliban

A BuzzFeed News report said that women on the Taliban's list are walking on a tightrope where a single misstep could mean death with thousands who built prosperous lives for themselves are now in hiding.

One such woman, Nilofar Ayoubi — who had built her own furniture production company — was forced to leave behind everything. She went on record to speak about the current situation there.

"This is the complete opposite of the life my kids and I had. I built my life from scratch, and now we are back to square one," Ayoubi shared, adding that she doesn't know when she'll try to flee.

Another woman, who spoke to BBC, packed her entire life into two leather suitcases and set out for the airport, saying that as an outspoken women's rights activist, she doesn't feel safe there anymore.

"Things have been stolen from me for as long as I remember - my childhood, my youth," she said, adding that she doesn't know what would have happened to her if she didn't flee in time.

Thousands of people have been trying to flee the country with huge crowds gathering outside the airport.

Image via BBC

Meanwhile, two Malaysians have decided to remain in Afghanistan:

Read our explainer about the situation in Afghanistan: