Guterres reiterates ‘women’s rights are not negotiable’

FILE PHOTO: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres attends a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) at the U.S. State Department in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2023. Source: Reuters

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that women and girls everywhere deserve a life of dignity and respect.

Guterres said in a tweet on Friday that everyone must stand with women “as they demand their fundamental rights.”

“We must never be silent in the face of unprecedented, systemic attacks on women and girls’ rights,” he tweeted.

This comes amid ongoing restrictions against women and girls in Afghanistan.

The EU’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, in a statement this week said that many aspects of the human rights situation in Afghanistan remain concerning amidst the Taliban’s ban on women employees at the UN and the ban on women and girls’ education.

Niklasson said that during his five-day visit, he met with representatives of UNAMA, UN agencies, and the diplomatic community, the Taliban’s intelligence chief, officials Taliban officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as representatives of civil society and ethnic minorities, human rights activists, former President Karzai and political figures.

“Since our last visit to Afghanistan in March this year, the de facto authorities have also banned Afghan women from working for the UN, which creates challenging obstacles for UNAMA to deliver fully on its important mandate, and for UN agencies to deliver essential assistance and services to Afghans in need across the country,” Niklasson said.

He said that this ban also violates several articles of the Charter of the UN – an organization in which the Taliban aspire to take up Afghanistan’s seat.

“I repeat the call on the de facto authorities that I have heard from many Afghans, and reflected in UNSCR 2681 and in statements by the EU and others to lift all these bans and restrictions, for the benefit of the country,” Niklasson said in his statement.

He added that beyond these specific issues with wide-ranging consequences, many other aspects of the human rights situation remain deeply concerning, as documented not least in recent reports by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and by UNAMA.