Malala Yousafzai says Biden has "huge responsibility" to Afghan women
President Biden has a "huge responsibility" to the women of Afghanistan who have had their freedoms reined in under Taliban rule following the U.S. withdrawal, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai said.
"I would definitely ask him to stand up and support the rights of women in Afghanistan and stand up for girls education. We cannot lose the gains that we have made over the past many, many years," Yousafzai told "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell in an interview Tuesday.
"It's the decision of the U.S. and other countries that have led to the situation that the people of Afghanistan are witnessing right now," she said. "So he has a huge responsibility."
Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban after she advocated for girls to be educated, said she's hearing from Afghan friends that girls are now afraid to attend school — something they were allowed to do during the U.S. occupation.
"They had dreams, and they're worried that they may not be able to sit in the classroom anymore. Women are worried about going to work. They are constantly under the surveillance, where people are watching them over how they act, how they speak, how they behave, what they wear, how they're dressed and their rights are denied to them," she said.
The Taliban are afraid of women and girls being educated, she said, because then they know that Islam allows them the same rights as men.
"Then these women can challenge them, and they can tell them that you cannot say this to us," she said. "Enlightenment is dangerous to the ideology of the Taliban or any other extremist group that is out there."
Yousafzai said she wants Afghan girls to know their voices can be powerful.
"They must believe in their voice," she said. "This is about your future. This is about your dignity. This is about your human rights and your voice is very much needed in this moment."
Some Afghan women have taken to the streets to protest the Taliban in recent weeks — a scene that would have been unlikely under Taliban repression in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Taliban violently ended the demonstrations calling for equal rights.
Even though the Biden administration's handling of the withdrawal has been heavily criticized, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said U.S. military presence in the country was not a viable solution for peace.
"This is a lesson that must be learned from this 20 years of war on terror — that the American troops, NATO troops were there for 20 years and still the Taliban are back in power," she said. "It's more an ideological fight, and we can only fight against indoctrination and against extremist ideology through enlightening education."
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