United Nations (UN) stated on March 8 that since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the country had become the most repressive in the world for women and girls, depriving them of many of their basic rights.
“Demonstrated an almost singular focus on imposing rules that leave most women and girls effectively trapped in their homes”, the UN mission in Afghanistan stated in a statement on International Women’s Day.
Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, UN Special Representative and head of the UN’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, strongly condemned recent Taliban decrees that have further eroded Afghan women’s rights.
According to the senior UN official in Kabul, speaking before the Security Council on March 8, Afghanistan remained the “most repressive country in the world (for) women’s rights” and stressed the significance of maintaining contact with the Taliban.
Roza Otunbayeva said, “Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world regarding women’s rights, and it has been distressing to witness their methodical, deliberate, and systematic efforts to push Afghan women and girls out of the public sphere”.
Since taking power in August 2021, the new leaders have banned secondary, and university education for girls and women, banned women from working in national and international nongovernmental organizations and have ordered women to be covered from head to toe.
The UN also pointed out that women have been largely restricted from travelling outside their homes and excluded from public decision-making.
Otunbayeva said that restricting women to their homes is “one of the world’s largest humanitarian and economic crises is a colossal act of national self-harm.”
Otunbayeva also said, “Confining half of the country’s population to their homes in one of the world’s largest humanitarian and economic crises is a colossal act of national self-harm”.
“It will condemn not only women and girls, but all Afghans, to poverty and aid dependency for generations to come,” she said. “It will further isolate Afghanistan from its own citizens and from the rest of the world.”
According to the International Labour Organisation, female employment in Afghanistan was 25 per cent lower in the final quarter of 2022 than during the final quarter of 2021, largely due to restrictions on where they can work and travel.
Taliban leaders have defended their bans on women’s education, claiming that the limits were only in place for a limited time because women were not following the dress code or they were studying subjects like engineering and agriculture.
The restrictions, especially the education and NGO work bans, have drawn fierce international condemnation. But the Taliban have shown no signs of backing down, claiming the bans are temporary suspensions in place allegedly because women were not wearing the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, correctly and because gender segregation rules were not being followed.
The Taliban Government has stated that university education is prohibited because some of the disciplines taught do not reflect Afghan or Islamic principles.
The UN mission to Afghanistan also said it had recorded an almost constant stream of discriminatory edicts and measures against women since the Taliban takeover – women’s right to travel or work outside the confines of their home and access to spaces is largely restricted, and they have also been excluded from all levels of public decision-making.
The UN said these restrictions had caused severe aftereffects, including more suicides, child marriage, early childbearing, poverty-related losses and a higher risk of domestic violence and sexual exploitation among women.
According to the statement, 11.6 million Afghan women and girls need humanitarian assistance. However, the Taliban are further undermining the international aid effort by banning women from working for NGOs.