Austria’s National Committee has convened on 5 May 2022 a roundtable to share perspectives from the field and address its members crucial questions on the situation and future of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Afghan women and girls have been progressively denied their fundamental rights to education, work, public space, freedom of movement, and overall, equal participation to the social, economic, and political development of their country.
Several directives and instructions have been released since the Taliban takeover on 15 August 2021 to restrict women’s rights and access to basic services. In many cases, women have not been able to return to work, and girls banned from attending high school. Afghan women cannot travel more than 48 miles (77 kilometres) without a male chaperon (or mahram). Reports from women civil society organizations and activists of women indicate women being stopped from driving, taking public transport, or simply moving from one place to another on their own, and within the specified geographic limit. Such constraints further limit women’s ability to earn a living, access health care and education, seek protection, escape situations of violence, exercise their individual and collective rights, and act with agency.
Afghan women are in addition severely impacted by the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Two thirds of them are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. 100% of women-led households do not have enough food to eat.
The escalating restrictions imposed by the Taliban impact not only the human rights of Afghan women but also the ability of international organizations to provide effective humanitarian assistance to women and girls. In this context, the international community alongside the United Nations have continually expressed their concern and called on the Taliban to respect and protect the human rights of all Afghans. In a statement released on 9 May 2022, UN Women’s Executive Director, Ms. Sima Bahous, called on the Taliban to respect their obligations under human rights law and the full human rights of women and girls, including the immediate restoration of women and girls’ independent freedom of movement, and their rights to work and to education to the highest level.
A peaceful, stable and flourishing Afghanistan cannot be built without Afghan women’s full and equal contribution and participation in all aspects of Afghanistan’s social, economic and political development.
UN Women is committed to protecting all Afghan women and girls’ rights, including by supporting women civil society organizations, women human rights defenders and the rebuilding of the women’s movement, establishing one-stop centers for crisis affected women, delivering lifesaving services to women survivors of violence, and providing women with livelihood opportunities such as unconditional cash, cash-for-work and support to micro, small and medium enterprises.
UN Women’s National Committees are committed alongside UN Women to supporting the global mobilization and call for the respect of all Afghan women and girls.