UN women’s committee concerned by exclusion of women from Doha meeting

The venue of second Doha meeting on Afghanistan in Feb. 2024. File photo.

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has expressed grave concerns over the exclusion of women and girls from the upcoming third round of the Doha meeting, set to begin on Sunday.

In a statement, the Committee emphasized the necessity of active and direct inclusion of women and girls in the Doha meeting’s sessions, which address critical global crises in women’s rights. “Failure to ensure participation will only further silence Afghan women and girls already facing escalating violations of their rights as prescribed by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),” the statement read.

The Committee also highlighted the deteriorating situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, warning of immense and irreversible harm to current and future generations. “The continued denial of education and employment, restrictions on movement, and curtailed presence in public spaces have increasingly entrenched the exclusion of women from public life since the Taliban takeover in August 2021,” the statement continued.

The statement criticized the Taliban’s decision to cut the salaries of women civil servants barred from employment, regardless of experience or qualifications, as a deliberate and harmful measure to disempower women in Afghanistan. The absence of Afghan women and civil society from the Doha meeting, it argued, would leave the rights of women and girls inadequately addressed.

“This would contradict the CEDAW Convention and U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1325 on women, peace, and security, and 2721,” the statement noted, adding that excluding women and girls from the Doha meeting would “undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the meeting and tacitly endorse the de facto authorities’ conduct in excluding women and girls from public life.”

The Committee called on the Taliban to fulfill its obligations under customary international law and human rights treaties to which Afghanistan is a party, including the CEDAW Convention.