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UN urges Taliban to reverse restrictions against women

December 28, 2022

The Security Council has called for the "full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan," after the Taliban barred women from working in NGOs and attending universities.

Afghan students stand in front of Kabul University
The UNSC urged the Taliban "to reopen schools and swiftly reverse these policies and practices"Image: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP/dpa/picture alliance

The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday denounced the state of women's rights in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

On Saturday, the hardline Islamist rulers banned women from working in non-governmental organizations. The move came only days after the Taliban had stopped women from attending universities.

What has the UN said about women's rights under the Taliban?

The 15-member Security Council said the current situation "represents an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms" and called "for the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan" in a press statement.

The UNSC urged the Taliban "to reopen schools and swiftly reverse these policies and practices."

"These restrictions contradict the commitments made by the Taliban to the Afghan people as well as the expectations of the international community," the UNSC statement said.

Due to their inability to manage their programs without female staff, a number of international aid organizations declared on Sunday that they were ceasing their activities in Afghanistan. This leaves millions of Afghans dependent on the humanitarian efforts of those organizations helpless.

On Tuesday, Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a dire warning about the "terrible" effects such policies would have.

"No country can develop — indeed survive — socially and economically with half its population excluded," his statement said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also took to Twitter on Tuesday and asked for the revocation of the "unjustifiable human rights violations" saying these policies cause "major setbacks to the potential of the Afghan people."

The situation for women in Afghanistan

When the Taliban seized power in August last year, they promised a more moderate system that would protect the rights of minorities and women, but have since enacted their rigid version of Islamic law, known as Sharia.

Afghan high school girls have not returned to the classroom. This rule was later extended to those in middle school.

The Taliban has also forced women out of numerous government jobs, prohibited them from traveling without a male relative, ordered them to wear a burqa outside of the home, and barred them from parks.

ss/rt(Reuters, AP, AFP)