Photo: Secretary Antony Blinken via X

Blinken Criticizes Taliban, Promising Philanthropic Investment to Help Afghan Women

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES – The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that the Taliban’s violation of women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms goes against the will of the people of Afghanistan.

Speaking at a session of the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience summit at the State Department on Tuesday, February 27, Blinken underscored that the Taliban’s restrictions are suffocating Afghanistan’s potential.

He emphasized that if women and girls were allowed to learn and work, the whole country would benefit.

“Women could put food on their family’s tables; they would add over a billion dollars to the Afghan economy,” he said.  

“Economic opportunity is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and sustainable security, so women’s contributions would also help create a more resilient society,” he added.

Blinken’s remarks come at a time as the group tightens restrictions on women in the wake of deteriorating relations between the regime in Kabul and the western countries and the UN.

Earlier this week, authorities in the eastern province of Khost ordered local radio channels to not receive phone calls from female listeners, blocking one of the last spaces for women voices–quite literally.

Two days later, the group said that female TV presenters can only reveal their eyes on screen.

“This is Afghanistan’s loss if women and girls are not allowed to reach their full potential,” Blinken emphasized.

Initiated by the US Department of State in partnership with Boston University in September 2022, the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience aims to catalyze support for Afghan women and girls. 

The alliance, as stated by the US Secretary of State, will soon collaborate with the Qatari Government, Arizona State University, and US companies like Coursera, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Meta to provide virtual training, skill-building courses, and scholarships for Afghan women and girls worldwide, as well as Afghan refugees in the US.

Addressing the summit, Rina Amiri, the US Special Envoy for Afghan Women and Girls, highlighted that in letters she receives from schoolgirls within Afghanistan, they do not seek to be seen as victims but instead ask for recognition of their dignified struggles for their rights.

“They want us to engage them as partners. They ask us to be guided by their creativity, their resilience, and their determination,” she said. 

Ms. Amiri gave her remarks at a platform largely dominated by American voices, including government officials.

A panel of five speakers that followed the speeches by Mr. Blinken and Ms. Amiri had only Roya Mahboob, the leader of Afghanistan Robotics team on the stage.

Mr. Blinken further highlighted that more than 70 countries across the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the Americas came together in a joint statement at the UN, calling for the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghan society.

“Women and girls are determined to study.  They’re determined to chart their own path.  They’re determined to contribute to the future of their communities despite the extraordinary obstacles that they face,” Blinken said.