Afghan chemists are afraid and uncertain

Posted July 26, 2022

Four people walking in a street, all of them wearing head coverings, and three of four wearing face coverings.

“Afghan chemists are afraid and uncertain.” A piece by Andrea Widener for Chemical and Engineering News.

A year ago, women chemists in Afghanistan were excited about the future. Young girls had started to think they didn’t have to be teachers or doctors, which until recently many people had considered the only options for girls interested in science.

“We had enough female students in all fields, even in engineering and computer science and pharmacy and chemistry,” that female faculty were feeling optimistic about the prospects for women in science, says a female biochemist who works at a university in the country’s capital, Kabul. Around 40% of her university’s biochemistry students were women in 2021.

But that hopeful future changed in an instant in August 2021, when the Taliban suddenly took over Kabul after the US withdrew its military troops from Afghanistan. Almost all humanitarian and development organizations also left the country, along with international government agencies, taking their funding with them.

Suddenly university chemists who had been busy teaching classes and doing research were hiding in their houses, away from the chaos and violence. Women, especially, were scared for their lives because the government did not acknowledge the rights of women to get educated or to work. […]

“The need from Afghanistan has been unique,” with a huge number of requests for assistance in a short period, says Rose Anderson, director of protection services at Scholars at Risk. Scholars at Risk gets applications from scholars and attempts to place them with one of over 550 member organizations, including the American Chemical Society.

Read the full piece.

In Categories: SAR in the Press