"Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.
From the last sermon of Prophet Mohammed.
The Taliban entered Kabul on Sept 24 1996, after executing Najibullah, the last communist president of Afghanistan. They established a strict new government based upon strict Islamic law. During its rise to power, the Taliban received support from Pakistan and from Afghans seeking a return to peace after nearly two decades of war. The victorious Taliban imposed strict restrictions upon the areas they controlled. Women were no longer allowed to attend school or to work, measures that were particularly onerous for the many women widowed during the years of war who were the sole source of support for their children. Penalties such as stoning for adultery and the amputation of limbs for theft were imposed. Women who failed to wear the concealing traditional Afghan village garment called a burqa in public and men who did not grow beards were beaten. Although the Taliban gained control of more than two-thirds of the country, their violations of human rights sparked international criticism, and resistance to their intolerant form of Islamic rule continued in central and northern Afghanistan, where the nation's Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara minorities were concentrated.
Prior to the rise of the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were protected under law and were given more and more rights in Afghan society. Women received the right to vote in the 1920s; and as early as the 1960s, the Afghan constitution provided for equality for women. There was a mood of tolerance and openness as the country began moving toward democracy. Women were making important contributions to national development. In 1977, women comprised over 15% of Afghanistan's highest legislative body. It is estimated that by the early 1990s, 70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers and university students, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women.