Scholars to visit Afghanistan for talks on ‘Islam’s position on women’

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will in coordination with the International Islamic Fiqh Academy send a team of scholars to Afghanistan for talks on aspects related to Islam’s position on women’s education and work, the OIC’s secretary-general said on Thursday.

Addressing the opening session of the 49th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC member states in Mauritania, Hussein Brahim Taha said the Taliban continue to “demand that they be given some time to review the academic curricula and the safe environment for girls’ education.”

He said the OIC affirms its commitment to “support the right of women in Afghanistan to education and work in line with the principles of Islam.” He went on the say “the OIC will continue its efforts and dialogue with the concerned authorities in Afghanistan and, in coordination with the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), will send an expanded team of scholars to Afghanistan for dialogue on aspects related to Islam’s position on women’s education and work.”

In Afghanistan, the OIC closely follows developments, implementing ministerial resolutions, and the outcomes of the Executive Committee meeting held last January, he said adding that in this context, Tarig Bakheet, the OIC’s special envoy to Afghanistan, visited the country last week.

Taha stated that Bakheet “held meetings in Kabul and Kandahar with leaders of the de-facto authorities. He conveyed the message of the OIC and its Member States regarding their commitment to support Afghanistan on the humanitarian level and the importance of reviewing the recent decisions taken by the de facto Afghan authorities regarding girls’ education, women’s work, and the need to make more efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

The secretary-general also stated that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan will continue through the OIC’s office in Kabul in coordination with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).

The OIC has in the past few months urged the Taliban to reverse its ban on women and girls getting an education. In January, the OIC convened an Executive Committee meeting to discuss the situation in the country and in a post-meeting communique, called on the Taliban to “strive toward reopening schools and universities for girls and enable them to enroll in all levels of education and all specializations required by the Afghan people.”

The OIC urged the Taliban to reconsider their education ban and other earlier decisions, which it said would have far-reaching social and economic consequences.

In December, the OIC also voiced its concern over the threat to women’s rights in Afghanistan following a decision by the Taliban leadership to ban women from working for non-government organizations (NGOs).

At the time, Taha said the move reflected a willful policy by the Taliban to further limit Afghan women’s rights.

He said that this “perplexing decision” would not only deprive Afghan women of a source of income for themselves and their families, but also seriously affect humanitarian and relief operations in Afghanistan.

Taha also denounced the ban on women studying at university, saying that “it will seriously dent the credibility of the government in place, just as it will deny Afghan girls and women their fundamental rights to education, employment and social justice.”