Whether you want it or not, women exist in society, said former university professor Zakira Nabil during a dicussion in a rare all-female panel broadcast aired by Afghan broadcaster Tolo News. An Afghan news network held a rare, nearly 50-minute broadcast with an all-female panel on its studio on International Women’s Day.

The panel was hosted by Tolo news presenter Sonia Niazi, who spoke about the problems and demands of Afghan women under the present circumstances, The Independent reported.

This is the first time such a news discussion took place in Afghan after the hardline Taliban took control. The photographs released by the news broadcaster show women taking part in the discussion with their faces covered with surgical masks. A panel of three women and one female moderator on Wednesday evening discussed the topic of the position of women in Islam.

From appearing in a full-length burqa in public to being banned in universities, the Taliban has imposed multiple restrictions on women.

“A woman has rights from an Islamic point of view … it is her right to be able to work, to be educated,” said journalist Asma Khogyani during the panel.

Her fellow panelist, Zakira Nabil, said women would continue to find ways to learn and work.

“Whether you want it or not, women exist in this society… if it’s not possible to get an education at school, she will learn knowledge at home,” the former university professor told the panel.

The news discussion was received well on social media as several praised Tolo for the broadcast.

A survey by Reporters Without Borders last year found that more than 75 per cent of female journalists had lost their jobs since the Taliban took over as foreign forces withdrew in August 2021.


The universities have re-opened in Afghanistan after the winter break, but only men are allowed to attend classes as the Taliban have imposed a ban on female students. The university ban is one of several restrictions imposed on women since the Taliban stormed back to power in August 2021 and has sparked global outrage — including across the Muslim world.

Women have also been forced out of the workforce in the last year despite the Taliban promising a moderate rule than last time. An order prevented women from being working officials, leaving many female journalists to quit their profession or work off air.

In May 2022, the Taliban had ordered all women to appear with a face veil in public, in addition to a full-length burqa. The order also covered TV presenters and initially led to some protests.

A day after International Women’s Day, the UN mission in Afghanistan said the country was “the most repressive in the world regarding women’s rights”.

Women working in the NGO sector have also been barred from working under the Taliban, causing economic and social upheaval in the country.

The Taliban have stopped the sale of contraceptives in two of Afghanistan’s main cities, a report said. The Taliban claimed that the use of contraceptives by women is a western conspiracy to control the Muslim population, Guardian reported.

The UN has asked the Taliban to remove the restrictions on girls and women from studying and working. The Taliban have said they respect women’s rights in accordance with their interpretation of Islamic law and Afghan culture and that authorities have set up a committee to examine perceived issues in order to work towards re-opening girls’ schools, Reuters reported.

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