Jolie detailed her experience of meeting a young Afghan refugee in Rome, who told her she had been months away from qualifying as a doctor before the Taliban took control.
“Her older sister was studying dentistry at university. Her two younger sisters were doing brilliantly in school,” Jolie recalled.
“Overnight, they and 14 million other Afghan women and girls lost their right to go to high school or university, their right to work, and their freedom of movement.”
“With tears streaming down her face, she told me that she wasn’t sad for herself, but for all the women of her country.”
Jolie noted that while America’s invasion of Afghanistan brought years of continuing violence and suffering, women’s right to education (in areas not controlled by the Taliban) was a “bright light”
“One year ago, Afghan women worked as doctors, teachers, artists, police officers, journalists, judges, lawyers, and elected politicians,” Jolie wrote.
“The picture for rural women was very different, particularly in areas still controlled by the Taliban, but the overall sense of progress was unmistakable. All of this has been overturned with unimaginable speed.”
Jolie recalled meeting women who, as young children, secretly went to school dressed up as boys.
She described the “daughters of Afghanistan” as “extraordinary”, for their “strength, resilience, and resourcefulness”.
As the Taliban took power in August last year, it promised to respect women’s rights, and allow women to work and study.
However, the extremist group has since banned girls from attending high school, writing in a notice that schools will remain closed until a “comprehensive” and “Islamic” plan for them was drawn up.
Jolie wrote: “It’s impossible not to think that attempts to force Afghan women back into the home will fail in the long term.
“It’s so obvious that Afghan women are an incredible resource for the country and its place in the world, and that the economy—and society as a whole—will not function without their full participation.
“Peace built on the oppression of women is no peace at all, but a society constantly at war with itself.”