The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was partially justified as a war to liberate the country’s women. This article shows how the – deeply problematic – ‘feminist’ framing of the war in many ways eclipsed the significant progress that has taken place in regards to Afghan women’s rights since 2001. Furthermore, I explore how such progress came to be denoted as so insignificant as to be easily cast aside in a prospective peace agreement with the Taliban. Afghan women activists who sought to advance women’s rights in a potential peace process were accused of prioritizing their own elitist interests above the possibility of ending the war. A similar dichotomy has emerged after the Taliban’s seizure of power in 2021, in the shape of a posited choice between the population’s ability to survive the humanitarian crisis developing in the aftermath of Taliban’s takeover on the one hand, and insisting on principles of women’s rights on the other.