ROME – A movement inspired by Pope Francis is calling for a global march in favor of Afghan women on Aug. 28 to shine the spotlight on their plight amid the recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
The Economy of Francesco organization is inviting people of all walks of life to participate in a global action on Saturday, after images emerged showing the drastic change in the lives of Afghan women after the Taliban took Kabul following the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the collapse of the recognized government.
The Taliban have reportedly whitewashed advertisements and other images of women visible on the streets of the Afghan capital.
The Economy of Francesco is a global movement of young economists, entrepreneurs, theologians, environmentalists, developers, researchers and “changemakers” engaged in changing the world’s economic system.
When the Taliban ran Afghanistan in the late-1990s, women were not allowed to walk alone in the streets, were stoned if convicted of adultery, and were denied an education after the age of 12.
Though no Vatican official has yet spoken on the record about the situation in Afghanistan since Pope Francis expressed his concern about the situation on Aug. 15, the Vatican’s newspaper ran a cover story asking about the future of the women in Afghanistan.
“Regardless of the reassurances of the insurgents, for the Afghan women this seems like the beginning of a new nightmare,” says the front page of the Aug. 18 L’Osservatore Romano.
“When they led Afghanistan during the second half of the 1990s, the Taliban led the country to total darkness: Women were in fact, ‘canceled’ from society.’ And with the return of the Taliban, there’s a concrete risk that the most extremist version of Sharia, the Koranic law, returns too,” the newspaper said.
The Economy of Francesco said the women of Afghanistan want to be free.
“Bravely, in the streets of Kabul, they shout: ‘Afghan women exist’. And they ask: ‘Support our voices, don’t let us disappear! World, can you hear us?'” says the statement.
The campaign from Economy of Francesco encourages people of good will to carry “in our hands and in the windows of our houses, a blue cloth, like the one that wants to hide Afghan women,” referring to the blue burka used in Afghanistan.
They suggest the blue cloth be worn or displayed every day, in a gesture that says to the women of Afghanistan “we are with you, we see you, we hear you.”
The campaign includes a call to “take to the streets, in the streets of our cities, to shout: ‘Afghan women exist. Together we stand!'”
People are also encouraged to give “visibility to these actions” and “give a voice to those who are silenced” by tagging photos and videos with the hashtags #AfghanWomenExist, #TogetherWeStand, #AfghanistanIsCalling.