UN Women meet the Taliban

UN Women chief: “The Taliban told us maybe we shouldn’t be here without our mahram”

Speaking to the BBC’s Lyse Doucet from Afghanistan’s western city of Herat, the Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, said that the Taliban had inflicted “the gravest women’s rights crisis in the world” on Afghan women.

Sima Bahous, who is in Afghanistan as a part a senior delegation headed by the UN’s deputy general secretary, Amina Mohammed, said that “I believe we need to continue to engage with the Taliban to try to reverse these edicts [bans women and girls’ rights to education and work].” Adding that we need to “explain the outcomes and the results of such edicts on women and on the socioeconomic development of this country.”

Sima Bahous, right, is accompanying Amina Mohammed in a bid to convince the Taliban leaders lift restrictions on women and girls.

Afghanistan, Sima Bahous said, “cannot make its way in the international community without its women and girls.” Asked about engagement with the Taliban leaders, Sima Bahous said, “We engaged with the Taliban. They told us, maybe, we shouldn’t be here without our mahram.”

Despite intense lobbying from the UN, country officials and international organisations, the Taliban has not relented on its decisions to ban women from universities and aid worker. The group banned girls from secondary schools soon after recapturing power in August 2021.