IOC member Samira Asghari attended the OCA Gender Equity Seminar on behalf of the Afghanistan NOC ©Samira Asghari

Afghanistan's International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Samira Asghari says her country has become a "prison" for women under Taliban rule but she is hopeful the Islamist group can be convinced into allowing them to access sport.

Asghari opened up about the "human crisis" facing Afghanistan when speaking to insidethegames following the conclusion of the Olympic Council of Asia Gender Equity Seminar here.

The 28-year-old now resides in Turkey after leaving her native country to advance her studies in Switzerland in 2020 but says she remains in daily contact with the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee (NOC) and athletes living in the war-torn nation.

The Taliban, which believes in Sharia law that severely restricts the freedoms of women, returned to power in August last year following the withdrawal of American troops.

Asghari said she has been shocked by the lack of global action in response to the "chaotic situation" in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover.

"After the collapse of the Government last year, everything changed," Asghari told insidethegames.

"When I say change, a new mentality and ideology came with the Taliban,

"They came and now the people’s hopes have faded and the situation is a human crisis at the highest level and the same from an economic point of view.

"It’s a chaotic situation and is still going on.

"To help the situation the world should convince the Taliban in a way to deal with them and we don’t lose the two decades of achievements that we have had.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, 20 years after being removed by American troops ©Getty Images
The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, 20 years after being removed by American troops ©Getty Images

"The world knows that the school doors are closed on Afghan females and the way that they treat women.

"It’s like a prison for any girls or woman in Afghanistan.

"I am surprised by how the world is watching and [taking] no action.

"I don’t believe that it can continue this way, so it is very difficult for women when it comes to sport and for the athletes it seems like the topic doesn’t exist at all."

The IOC has said it has been closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan in a bid to ensure women and girls are able to play sport.

Asghari has backed the IOC to "carefully communicate" with the Taliban and proposes to put female coaches in charge of women’s sport in her country.

"If they are saying sport is not for women, it is not true," said Asghari.

"The next step is to bring in female coaches.

"Women’s sport should be controlled by women.

"That’s possible.

"Giving the example of Iran, they have champions and top female athletes from different team sports.

"Maybe we can step in with such an idea that women’s sport should be led by woman.

"That perhaps opens the door for communicating regarding sport with women and with the Taliban."

Girls have been banned from attending school under the Taliban regime ©Getty Images
Girls have been banned from attending school under the Taliban regime ©Getty Images

IOC President Thomas Bach said in September that his organisation was receiving "different signals" from Afghanistan on its approach to women in sport.

More women than men made up Afghanistan’s 47-strong team at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya in July, fulfilling a pledge made by Taliban officials to the IOC last November to allow Afghan athletes and teams to compete internationally.

However it was later confirmed by the IOC that all the female participants were living outside of Afghanistan when they competed.

Asghari said she remained hopeful that the IOC’s approach to communication with the Taliban would yield positive results.

"As long as I see the situation, I think all we can do is reach for a better solution or at least better progress," said Asghari.

"We have to go with the flow, make small steps and carefully communicate with the Taliban otherwise it will just shatter all the achievements that the whole population has had.

"I think the approach is right for the moment and the IOC is completely in full support of Afghan athletes.

"They are still hoping that the Taliban is going to be logical. 

"We are guiding them, saying this is good for your country.

"I think we are on the right track, it is the correct approach for now so let’s see what the Taliban does."

Asghari is the youngest person to become an IOC member and first from Afghanistan following her election in 2018 at the age of 24.

Asghari believes the IOC is taking the right approach to deal with the Taliban ©Samira Asghari
Asghari believes the IOC is taking the right approach to deal with the Taliban ©Samira Asghari

The former basketball player is a member of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympics and the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics as well as being a member of the Athletes' Entourage Commission.

She attended the OCA Gender Equity Seminar in Bahrain capital Manama on behalf of the Afghanistan NOC.

"I am in contact with them on a daily basis, that’s why I am representing the NOC because the secretary general couldn’t make it," added Asghari.

"I met some of my previous colleagues [at the Islamic Solidarity Games] but they were still working with the Taliban.

"I met them and met one person that was appointed directly by the Taliban.

"But the current Sports Minister didn’t meet any girls or female teams.

"I didn’t meet him but I met other colleagues.

"Otherwise, I am in contact with the former Executive Board members that are still there under the Taliban Government."

Asghari says she hopes to be a role model for female athletes as she spoke of her determination to fight for women’s rights.

"Over the past two decades it wasn’t easy," added Asghari.

"We have already suffered a lot.

"I will try in my capacity to push and enforce whatever I can.

"My message is for the unity of the youth of Afghanistan and to think about a country without radicals."