The latest: The UN Security Council is set to vote today to condemn a ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan and call upon the Taliban administration to “swiftly reverse” its crackdown on the rights of women and girls.
- The resolution to be voted on – drafted by the United Arab Emirates and Japan – describes the ban as “unprecedented in the history of the United Nations” and asserts “the indispensable role of women in Afghan society.”
- It expresses “deep concern at the increasing erosion of respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls in Afghanistan by the Taliban”.
- It calls on the Taliban to swiftly restore their access to education, employment, freedom of movement and equal participation in public life.
- The draft Security Council resolution demands all parties allow full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access “regardless of gender” and “stresses the urgent need to continue addressing the dire economic and humanitarian situation.”
- The resolution needs at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain, or France to pass.
- The draft resolution says the ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations “undermines human rights and humanitarian principles.”
- It also “recognizes the need to help address the substantial challenges facing Afghanistan’s economy, including through efforts to enable the use of assets belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank for the benefit of the Afghan people”.
- The draft resolution also stresses “the critical importance” of the United Nations’ continued presence across Afghanistan.
Zoom out: This comes even as the Taliban says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Taliban officials said decisions on female aid workers are an “internal issue.”
- Earlier this month the Taliban began enforcing the ban on Afghan women working for the UN after stopping most women working for humanitarian aid groups in December.
- Since toppling the Western-backed government in 2021, the Taliban have also tightened controls on women’s access to public life, including barring women from university and closing girls’ high schools.
- They had initially promised a more moderate rule than during their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001. However, there has been growing international consternation as Taliban leaders have gradually re-imposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, on women and girls.
- Several restrictions have been imposed on women, which has been called suppressive for Afghan women; by which females cannot present in public spaces, gyms and work with the international community, including UN offices.
- The Taliban authorities called their ban on religious and cultural interests rather than restrictions on women’s rights.