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Orzala Nemat: The Defiant Activist Who Challenged the Taliban

Introducing Orzala Nemat: The Activist Who Defied the Taliban

This is a remarkable tale of bravery, strength, and the determination to make a difference against all odds. Orzala Nemat, an activist, and political science doctor, has worked under the Taliban’s previous regime, running secret schools for young girls in Afghanistan.

A Battle Against Oppression

Orzala Nemat supported the Afghan women’s movement from London during the Taliban’s previous reign. She utilized her creativity to ensure that the people could receive education, even under the harsh rule of the Taliban. Believing in the fall of autocratic regimes, she endured against challenging circumstances.

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Stand-Up Against the Threats

In December 2020, after a series of murders of academics and journalists in Afghanistan forced her thinktank Areu to take the death threats against her seriously, she quickly left for London. Formerly heading Areu, named Afghanistan’s best thinktank, she was at the helm of several projects focusing on everything from local governance to self-sufficiency and violence against women.

“I had lofty visions for Areu. We were to be the independent research institution Afghan civil society could lean on. But history wanted differently” – Orzala Nemat

War and Its Aftermath

When the Taliban took over Kabul again, Nemat, who had now left Areu for research at University College London, couldn’t return home. This, however, hasn’t deterred her engagement with the development and women’s movement in her homeland. Despite NATO forces’ withdrawal, she highlights the impressive resilience and creativity of young women, who are participating actively in silent activism.

Unfolding Stories of Women From Afghanistan

Sharing snippets from her past, Nemat recalled launching an organization that ran a network of covert schools for primary school children in Afghanistan. Creating improvised classrooms in large houses, the volunteers smuggled copies of curriculums and textbooks. They also taught religion, so if stopped by the Taliban, the children could claim they were going to a religious school.

“We taught in such an efficient way that we completed three academic years within 18 months.” – Orzala Nemat

For the Future

With the advent of the internet, Nemat sees vast potential for distant learning in her homeland. She’s approached the current Taliban rule with a proposal, which sadly was declined. However, this hasn’t discouraged her. Determined to bring about change, attendees at a conference in Stockholm, organized by the Swedish Afghanistan Committee, heard Nemat declare that the women of her homeland would never allow themselves to be silenced by oppression.

In Conclusion

The story of Orzala Nemat is not only a tale of courage and defiance, but also a heartfelt appeal for more inclusive, equitable societies. An embodiment of resistance and optimism, she continues her fight for the education and betterment of women and children back home, reminding us all that progress and change are indeed possible, even in the direst of circumstances.

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