Current Affairs

Girl Power, Meet the Women Who Are Fighting Back

[Afghan women take up arms against the Taliban; Kurdish and Yazidi women fight ISIS; Saudi and Iranian women oppose repression].

Afghan women in the province of Jawzjan have demanded – and received – arms from the local police to protect themselves against the Taliban and the newly active Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in their area.

The women, most of whom have lost multiple family members to these jihadi organizations are determined not to go down without a fight - and if they can take the terrorists down instead, so much the better.

"I lost nine members of my family. The Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) killed my five sons and four nephews," one woman told the news outlet Wion News. "I have taken up arms to defeat the terrorists so other people's sons won't get killed."

The local police commander, Sher Ali, said that the women asked him for guns and ammunition last month. "They came to me and said that if I didn't provide them with weapons they would kill themselves - before Daesh or the Taliban could," he said, speaking to Thomson Reuters Foundation.

One woman in her twenties, who requested anonymity, said her husband as well as many other family members had been killed by the Taliban. She is determined to fight back. "I hit the Taliban with this PK (machine gun), and the Taliban fled. Most of their men died. I will stand against Daesh and will hit them too," she declared.

Kurdish women are fighting back against the Islamic State. The women fighters are revered in Kurdistan – not only as an expression of patriotism but as a means to freedom as a woman in a highly repressive society. 

After suffering the humiliation of being sex slaves for ISIS, Yazidi women who have escaped are forming units to fight against their former captors on the battlefield. The following is the story of just one group of the 400 Yazidi women who have joined the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting against Islamic State.


The recent campaign to end the repressive male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia has been waged on many fronts. The laws require every woman to have a male “guardian” from whom she needs permission to travel, get an education, marry and even go to the doctor, among other everyday activities. The guardian is usually her father and, after she married, her husband, but her “guardian” could end up being her son, if she is widowed. 

Iranian women have few options to protest against the repressive dictates forced upon them by the Islamist government. Most of those options will see them arrested as political prisoners and thrown into Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Still, women are fighting back with a Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom,” where they post pictures of themselves outside without their required head covering or doing forbidden activities like singing in public or riding a bicycle.