During the Durrani Empire and the early Barakzai Dynasty, Afghan women live in a state of purdah, or gender segregation, imposed by patriarchal customs. They are expected to cover their hair and bodies, and play no public role in society.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Afghan women gain suffrage – one year before women in the United States.


The first school for girls opens its doors.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Queen Soraya, wife of King Amanullah, founds the first women’s magazine, Irshad-e Naswan, which advocates for gender equality.

Three women in Afghanistan in the 1920s. At this time, they are not restricted by a dress code. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Queen Soraya and Princess Sahira Begum Seraj al-Banat found the first women’s organization, Anjuman-i Himayat-i-Niswan. This same year, King Amanullah sends 15 female graduates of the Masturat middle school, daughters of the royal family and government officials, to study in Turkey.


After King Amanullah abdicates, Mohammad Nadir Shah becomes King. His reign sees a string of setbacks for women: he closes girls’ schools, requires women to wear veils and reverses many other reforms.

King Zahir Shah (Credit: Openclipart)

Mohammad Nadir Shah is succeeded by his liberal-minded son, Mohammad Zahir Shah, who reinstates a number of King Amanullah’s initiatives in favor of women’s rights. Despite some major improvements, the countryside remains deeply patriarchal, and the lives of rural women are not affected by the changes taking place in the cities.


The United States formally recognizes Afghanistan.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The pro-Soviet Gen. Mohammad Daoud Khan becomes prime minister, introducing a number of social reforms that would allow women a more public presence.


Women are allowed to attend universities and enter the workforce.


Women help to draft Afghanistan’s third constitution, which grants women the right to run for office.


Jameela Farooq Rooshna becomes the first female judge in Afghanistan.


Prime Minister Khan overthrows King Mohammad Zahir Shah in a military coup. He abolishes the monarchy and makes himself president, meaning that Afghanistan now has a Soviet-backed government.


President Khan proposes a new constitution that grants more rights to women.


President Khan is killed in a communist coup. Conservative Islamic and ethnic leaders who objected to social changes introduced by Khan begin an armed revolt in the countryside, and the guerrilla movement Mujahideen is created.


The USSR invades Afghanistan to bolster the faltering communist regime. Religious extremist groups gain greater control of the country, and women begin to see an increase in restrictions on their freedom.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Mujahideen rebels have united against Soviet invaders and the USSR-backed Afghan Army.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Saudi Islamist Osama bin Laden makes his first documented trip to Afghanistan to aid anti-Soviet fighters. The United Nations investigates reported human rights violations in Afghanistan.


Osama bin Laden and 15 other Islamists form the group al-Qaeda to continue their “holy war” against the Soviets and others who oppose their goal of a pure, Islam-governed nation.

Soviet troop column crosses Soviet border after leaving Afghanistan on February 15, 1989. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

100,000 Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan. However, the Mujahideen continue their resistance against the Soviet-backed Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, who had been elected president of Afghanistan in 1986.


The Mujahideen and other rebel groups storm the capital, Kabul, and overthrow Najibullah. The group forms a largely Islamic state.


The newly-formed Islamic militia, the Taliban, now hold power. Most Afghans, exhausted by years of drought, famine and war, approve of the Taliban initially. They outlaw girls’ education after the age of eight, bar women from working and require women to cover their bodies and faces in public. They even ban women’s voices on the radio and outlaw any displays of images of women.

September 11, 2001
The World Trade Center after the September 11 attacks. (Credit: Rawpixel)

Al-Qaeda operatives hijack four commercial planes, crashing them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth plane crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Close to three thousand people die in the attacks.

October 7, 2001
U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. (Credit: Flickr)

With British support, the U.S. military begins a bombing campaign against Taliban forces.

December 9, 2001

The Taliban surrender Kandahar and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar flees the city, leaving it under tribal law administered by Pashtun leaders. This date is what many attribute to the fall of the Taliban.


The National Council adopts a new constitution following input from nearly 500,000 Afghans, some of whom participate in public meetings in villages. The new constitution allocates 25% of parliamentary and provincial council seats to women, as well as 30% of civil service positions. Alongside this, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is created as the main body responsible for women’s rights and empowerment.


Parliament passes the Shia Personal Status Act, which allows a husband to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex. Women’s rights activists gather in front of Parliament to protest against the law, and are met by a force of Shia clergymen, who came out in support of the law.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Ashraf Ghani becomes president after drawing a large number of voters among women and youth. His wife opens the Office of the First Lady to serve Afghan women and children. He appoints women in the cabinet positions in heavily male-dominated sectors such as mining and communication and requires all the ministries to have at least one woman as deputy minister. Furthermore, he supports the formation of the Afghan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries and gives 5% preference to Afghan women-owned companies bidding for public contracts.

A group of women in Kabul. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
February 2020

Former president Donald Trump sets an agreement with Taliban insurgents in February 2020 that all US forces would withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021.

April 14, 2021

President Biden announces a four-month postponement of Trump’s deadline, saying U.S. and NATO troops “will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11th.”

July 5, 2021

The U.S. leaves Bagram airfield without telling the base’s new Afghan commander.

August 10, 2021

The White House says Taliban takeover “is not inevitable” following the U.S.’ speedy withdrawal from the country.

August 13, 2021
The Taliban regains power in Afghanistan. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Taliban captures Herat.

August 15, 2021

The Afghanistan government collapses as the Taliban takes over its capital city, Kabul.

August 26, 2021

Two suicide bombings occur outside the Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans try to flee the country following the Taliban’s takeover. The bombings killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. soldiers.

August 30, 2021

The U.S. transports a final contingent of troops from Kabul Airport, officially ending America’s longest war.

September 6, 2021

IsraAID evacuates its first cohort of 42 Afghans to Abu Dhabi.

September 12, 2021

The Taliban announces that women can attend universities with gender-segregated entrances and classrooms, but they can only be taught by professors of the same sex. Women are also required to wear hijabs.

October 2, 2021

IsraAID evacuates its second cohort of 125 Afghans to Albania.

March 23, 2022
(Credit: USAID, Pixnio)

Tens of thousands of secondary school girls are ordered to stay home.

May 7, 2022
(Credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)

Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhunzada orders women to fully cover themselves, including their faces, in public and generally stay at home. Women are also banned from inter-city travel without a male escort.

August 13, 2022

Women gather outside the education ministry in Kabul to protest the ban on education. Taliban fighters break up the demonstration.

November 10, 2022
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Women are barred from entering parks, gyms and public baths.

December 21, 2022

Armed guards stop hundreds of young women from entering university campuses, one day after a terse release from the minister for higher education announces an order “suspending the education of females until further notice.”

December 24, 2022

Women are banned from working for national and international NGOs.

June 24, 2023
The storefront of a beauty salon in Afghanistan. (Credit: Aliasuddin Ghousy Rahguzar, Google Maps)

The Taliban orders all beauty salons to shut their doors by July 27.