UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN Chief Calls on Taliban to End ‘Outrageous Ban’ on Women

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – One day after the UN-hosted Doha meeting on Afghanistan, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called, once again, on the Taliban, to end the ‘outrageous ban’ on women and girls’ access to education and employment.

Reporting the Doha meeting in a series of posts on X on Tuesday, February 20th, the UN chief emphasized that women and girls in Afghanistan must have the opportunity to participate fully and meaningfully in all aspects of life, from classrooms to decision-making tables.

“The global community must keep pushing to ensure that the needs & rights of all Afghans are the central priority of the de facto authorities,” he said.

Since their resurgence to power, the Taliban’s severe restrictions on women’s rights have established one of the world’s most oppressive regimes for women and girls.

During a press conference after the two-day closed-door meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan in Doha, Guterres also mentioned the deterioration of the situation of women and girls in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, saying that the situation for women in the country has not improved and has, in fact, further deteriorated in recent times.

Answering to a question about women’s rights, Mr. Guterres said that he has three granddaughters and cannot imagine them being stripped away of their right to study and work.

In a recent restrictive measure, the Kabul regime has begun arresting women and girls in the capital and many other provinces for failing to comply with the Taliban’s dress code, which dictates that proper attire must extend below a woman’s knee.

Qatar, the oil-rich nation that hosted both the first and second UN international conferences on Afghanistan, and has also hosted the political office of the Taliban since their negotiations with the US began, underscores its concerns about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, particularly with regard to the rights of women and girls.

In his opening remarks at the Doha meeting on Afghanistan on Sunday, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al Khulaifi, the minister of state at Qatari foreign ministry said that he conveyed his country’s position to the ruling Taliban and will persist until achieving a positive outcome in that regard.

Previously, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) voiced concerns over the significant violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan, saying that the Taliban’s restrictive policies towards women and girls undermine Afghanistan’s commitment to protect human rights, particularly those of women.

CEDAW, in a statement, remarked that the Taliban’s progressive and deliberate restrictions on women and girls’ rights have been institutionalized through edicts, policies, and practices. According to the UN body, these actions may amount to gender persecution, recognized as a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The UN committee called on the Taliban to revoke all misogynistic decrees and restrictions and to uphold, protect, and fulfill women’s human rights in accordance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and international human rights law.

Welcoming CEDAW’s condemnation of the Taliban’s policies and actions towards women, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, said that it underscores the systemic gender-based discrimination perpetuated by the Taliban since assuming power in Afghanistan. This discrimination, he emphasized, violates nearly all substantive articles of the Convention.