Kabul, 24 January 2023 (TDI): The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, and Executive Director of UN-Women, Sima Bahous conveyed a direct message to Afghan Taliban leadership, to end the current policy pursuits towards women and girls.

The Assistant Secretary-General for UN Political, Peacebuilding, and Peace Operations, Khaled Khiari, spent four days on a fact-finding mission in Afghanistan.

The purpose was to engage with Taliban leaders along with highlighting UN solidarity with the people of the country.  

The Taliban’s restrictions in Afghanistan will exclude the female population of the country from participation
Call to Reverse Policy

The delegation conveyed the message over the recent decree banning women from working for a national and international non-governmental organization, during meetings with de facto authorities in Kabul and Kandahar. 

A move by Afghan rulers undermined the work of numerous organizations helping millions of vulnerable Afghans. Taliban’s fundamentalist moves banned women’s universities and prevented girls from attending secondary school.

Girls play volleyball at a school in Herat, Afghanistan, in 2016.
Exclusion from Public Life

Women and girls were ordered to stop working in parks, gyms, and public bath houses, and banned from most areas of the workforce.

Also, restrictions on their freedom of movement, are in line with the authorities’ interpretation of Sharia law. Taliban’s move would also exclude women from participation in political activities such as voting. 

The ban on local women working in the aid sector led to the suspension of operations, as such agencies need the support of women in conservative Afghan society. However, Taliban rulers relaxed restrictions on women health workers.

Afghans Suffer

The UN Deputy Secretary gave a clear message that the UN recognizes the exemptions made, but the restrictions on Afghan women and girls are a violation of fundamental human rights.

The collective ambition of the UN and the world community is a prosperous and sustainable Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Afghanistan is isolating itself at a time when it is facing a severe humanitarian crisis.

It is one of the vulnerable states due to climate change as well. During this mission, the delegation met with communities, humanitarian workers, civil society, and other key actors, in Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. 

The resilience of Afghan Women

The Afghan women and girls showed resilience and determination, they are courageous and refused to give up public life.

They would continue to resist and advocate for their rights. UN is bound to support them, stated UN Deputy Secretary.

A female Afghan volunteer engaged in a UNHCR-supported education project in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan is a grave women’s rights crisis. It is a wake-up call for the international community.

“It shows how quickly decades of progress on women´s rights can be reversed in a matter of days. UN Women stands with all Afghan women and girls and will continue to amplify their voices to regain all their rights,” said UN Deputy Secretary.

UN Commitment

The UN and its partners are committed to providing humanitarian aid to 25 million Afghans. The service delivery is halted due to the anti-women move but the UN continues to deliver. 

The effective delivery of humanitarian assistance is based on safety, security, and unhindered access for all aid workers including women. 

Delegation’s High-Level Consultations

The delegation has also met with officials in the Gulf region and Asia including the leadership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic Development Bank, and groups of Afghan women in the Turkish and Pakistani capitals of Ankara and Islamabad.

UN calls on Afghan Taliban to end restrictions on Women & Girls
Students in grades 1 to 6 have restarted school in Herat, Afghanistan, but girls in grades 7-12 have not been attending classes.

Moreover, a group of Ambassadors and Special Envoys to Afghanistan, are based in Doha. The delegation advocated for the full participation of women in Afghanistan.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

The delegation also engaged with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for urgent delivery of lifesaving support and maintenance of effective engagement.

The delegation stressed the importance of a unified response by the international community against the violation of human rights. 

Women protesting against Taliban women exclusion policies

There is also a proposal to hold an international conference on women and girls in the Muslim World in March.