“The future of women in Afghanistan is a grave concern right now with increasing conflict and insecurity putting women and children in danger,” says Maliha Malikpour, the women’s rights policy manager at ActionAid Afghanistan.
To make matters worse, the world is facing an unprecedented climate emergency, and Afghanistan, like many countries, has been badly affected by increasing climate disasters. An ActionAid analysis  of climate migration in South Asia found that the climate crisis is set to displace 5 million Afghan people by the year 2050.
Years of intense drought followed by the worst floods Afghanistan has seen in a decade have left farmlands desolate and unable to produce crops. In a country where 85% of the population depend on agriculture for an income, climate change is already having devastating consequences. Women’s livelihoods have been destroyed and thousands have been forced to flee their homes, pushing them further into poverty.
Established more than 15 years ago to house people displaced by conflict, the Shaiday camp in Herat province is home to 300,000 people and counting. Now, more and more families are seeking refuge in the camp after being displaced by recent droughts and floods.
Further, ActionAid’s research finds that when people are displaced, women and girls are more likely to face domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking and forced early marriage.
“During our research, women described how scared and uncomfortable they are to leave their home, even if it is to buy food. Women and girls face routine abuse and harassment in the marketplace because they are alone,” Maliha notes.
In Afghanistan, ActionAid is calling for existing policies and strategies to become climate-proof and gender responsive. This means recognising the disproportionate impact of climate migration on women and girls, and the increasing threat of gender-based violence, child marriage and exploitation they face in times of crisis.
There is an urgent need to continue to develop the skills of women affected by conflict and climate change. Women farmers in Afghanistan are learning climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture practices so they can continue to support their families. ActionAid safe spaces also provide women with legal support, skills training and rights-awareness training so they can rebuild their lives after experiencing violence or harassment.