Desperate Afghans clinging to the sides of a US military aircraft taking off at Kabul's international airport are among the most harrowing images to emerge since Taliban fighters swept through the country and seized the capital.

Notably absent among the panicked crowds who forced a way onto the tarmac — desperate to escape Taliban rule — are women.

While girls and women have made gains these past 20 years, men are still far more likely to hold jobs, own savings and passports, and tend to enjoy greater status across society, facilitating any flight from Kabul when resources are tight.

Here are nine statistics on the state of inequality in Afghanistan — a chasm many now fear could widen as the Taliban come back to power.   

1. In Afghanistan, the income of an average woman is less than 16% than of that of an average man, according to 2021 data.

2. Women in Afghanistan are outnumbered five to one by men in sectors that require higher skills, according to 2021 data.

3. Afghan women make up 4.1% of the country's senior and managerial positions, according to 2021 data.

4. As of 2017, women own and operate five in every 100 small businesses across the country.

5. In parliament, just 27% of members are women.

6. Afghanistan comes bottom of 156 countries when it comes to measuring what economic opportunity is open to women against the options on offer to men.

7. In 2017, there were nearly seven girls for every 10 boys enrolled in primary school, dropping to six girls for every 10 boys enrolled in secondary school.

8. The female literacy rate in Afghanistan is just over 53%, compared with 79% worldwide.

9. In 2015, researchers found that 46.1% of women aged 15-49 said they had been subject to physical or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner within the previous year.

SOURCES: Brookings Institution; The World Economic Forum; The United Nations; The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; The World Bank


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