It is almost two years since the Taliban astonished – and terrified – the world by sweeping back to power in Afghanistan as US forces withdrew from the country. In recent months there have been suggestions from some in the West that a process of “normalising” relations with the country should now be considered.

But for Vrinda Narain, at McGill University in Montreal, things remain far from normal in Afghanistan. She points out that, “Afghan women have been denied the most basic human rights”. This, she continues, is no less than “gender apartheid”, adding: “Only by labelling it as such and making clear the situation in Afghanistan is a crime against humanity can the international community legally fight the systematic discrimination against the country’s women and girls.” Read her analysis here.

And as wildfires sweep regions from Portugal to Hawaii, read this remarkable insight into the work of those who bravely tackle the flames.

Stephen Khan

Executive Editor, The Conversation International

A Taliban fighter stands guard as women wait to receive food rations distributed by a humanitarian aid group, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in May 2023. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

The Taliban’s war on women in Afghanistan must be formally recognized as gender apartheid

Vrinda Narain, McGill University

The Taliban’s two years ruling Afghanistan have taught us ordinary human rights initiatives are insufficient to address gender apartheid. We need resolute collective international action.


Is the Great Barrier Reef reviving – or dying? Here’s what’s happening beyond the headlines

Mike Emslie, Australian Institute of Marine Science; Daniela Ceccarelli, Australian Institute of Marine Science; David Wachenfeld, Australian Institute of Marine Science

In recent years, the Barrier Reef has had a reprieve – and coral has regrown strongly. But now the reprieve looks to be over and the heat is back on

Ruby Mountain hotshots construct a fire line during the Dixie Fire in 2021. Joe Bradshaw/BLM

Yellow jerseys of the fireline: A day fighting wildfires can require as much endurance as riding the Tour de France

Brent C. Ruby, University of Montana

Twenty-five years of research show what it takes to fuel wildland firefighters through an average day, and the toll the long seasonal work takes on their bodies.