Finding Truth, Elevating Perspective:
Changing the Narrative on Afghanistan

Wars have narratives. So do their endings. What is said and what will be said is predicated by the position of the observer – essentially, who that observer supports. 

Afghanistan is no different. The narrative of bringing peace, of liberating women, of building a democratic state evolved from the original narrative of defeating terrorism and destroying Al Qaida. Forgotten in the entire story was where the Taliban came from, as in Orwell’s 1984: They had always been the enemy.

Today, it is clear that Afghanistan’s current state of collapse was both predictable and predicted. Peace cannot be realised through 20 years of violent intervention, investment in an extreme version of militarised security, and economic sub-contracting to private interests. Investments in people and their economic and social rights have been rendered insignificant by the budget for security. 

The restoration of the Taliban to power is testimony to the truth of this assertion. One which WILPF has held to be  true for over 100 years.

We are told that the rapidity of the fall of Kabul was not foreseen. This is untrue. There was military intelligence that advised as to the reality of the state of the Afghan security apparatus, a year before the fall, at the time of the Trump deal and after. Three weeks before the fall, WILPF Afghanistan president Jamila Afghani – writing on behalf of WILPF Afghanistan and other women’s organisations – wrote to the UN Security Council to warn of what was about to happen. WILPF submitted a brief telling what the UNSC and member states should be doing so as to comply with international law and responsibilities for peace and security. 

They knew. They were told. They did nothing.

It is vital that the truth is told. Not just because the history has to be inclusive and accurate, but because Afghanistan will soon disappear from media scrutiny and public concern. It already is.

In our series of blogs, see below, we will provide an inside story of what happened, in Afghanistan, before and during the evacuations; of the advocacy, the solidarity, and the ongoing fight to secure justice for those who want nothing more than to live in peace. 

Their stories will bring a different perspective and enable a narrative to be built which accurately describes what happened and hence what needs to be done.

We hope you’ll follow along. 

Madeleine Rees Portrait

Madeleine Rees
WILPF Secretary-General

Latest Stories on Afghanistan

Military Helicopter with Soldiers boarding
2 December 2021

Militarism and Afghanistan: Corruption and Social Destruction

Legs of Soldiers Marching
2 December 2021

Militarism and Afghanistan: Costs and Profits

Silhouettes of soldiers walking into the distance, military helicopter in the distance
2 December 2021

Militarism and Afghanistan: Death, destruction, and other deliverables

Three Women cleaning/collecting water
25 November 2021
#Afghanistan #GenderBasedViolence

Gender-Based Violence in Afghanistan: Time to Act

Police Officer at border observing Refugees
15 November 2021

No Humans Are “Illegal” – Open The Borders, End The “Games”

Sunset and clouds over Kabul
11 November 2021

Urgent Demand to Donors from the Feminist Action for Afghanistan

Meet with WILPF Afghanistan


WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.