Women's rights activist Malala Yousafzai has called for urgent action to be taken to protect women and girls in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.
In a powerful piece she wrote for The New York Times, the 24-year-old, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in Pakistan in 2012, said "Afghan women’s fears are real" as the Taliban has a history of suppressing women's rights to education and work.
"Afghan girls and young women are once again where I have been — in despair over the thought that they might never be allowed to see a classroom or hold a book again," the Nobel Prize recipient wrote.
She said while some members of the Taliban have claimed that they won't deny women the right to study or work, this needs to be formalised.
"We need specific agreements that girls can complete their education, can study science and math, can go to university and be allowed to join the workforce and do jobs they choose," she wrote.
Emphasising the urgency, Yousafzai added, "We will have time to debate what went wrong in the war in Afghanistan, but in this critical moment we must listen to the voices of Afghan women and girls.
"They are asking for protection, for education, for the freedom and the future they were promised."
Malala was 15 when she was shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' rights to go to school in Pakistan. Following her recovery in the UK, she became known for her activism and graduated from Oxford University last year.
Afghanistan is in crisis after Taliban fighters took control of major towns across the country, culminating in the occupation of the capital, Kabul, on 15th August after President Ashraf Ghani fled. The actions come just weeks after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years.
Australia has deployed 250 defence force personnel to help evacuate Australians and Afghans who worked alongside the ADF from Afghanistan, with the hope of around 600 people being evacuated from Kabul.