Female Foreign Ministers Meeting calls on Taliban to swiftly reverse bans on women, girls

In a landmark gathering, foreign ministers from France, Germany, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Mongolia, and South Africa convened at the Female Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on June 29–30, 2023.

“We call for the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of women and girls in Afghanistan,” the foreign ministers said in a joint statement. “We call upon the Taliban to swiftly reverse the policies and practices that restrict women and girls from enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to education, employment, freedom of movement, and their full and equal participation in public life.”

They also urged “all states and organizations to use their influence, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, to promote an urgent reversal of these policies and practices.”

The ministers united to reaffirm their commitment to international law, human rights, and gender equality, as well as to address pressing global challenges, including international peace and security, food security, and climate change. They called on the Taliban to reverse their restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan.

The meeting commenced with a reaffirmation of their dedication to the United Nations Charter, human rights principles, and international agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The ministers also emphasized their support for the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Secretary-General’s “Our Common Agenda,” which aims to accelerate action on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Recognizing the vital role of women in conflict prevention and resolution, the ministers underscored the importance of their full, equal, and meaningful participation in maintaining peace and security.

They called for increased access to justice for victims of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, urging the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of perpetrators. Commitments were made to implement the Women, Peace, and Security agenda, including integrating gender curricula in peacekeeping missions and promoting women’s participation in decision-making processes.

On the topic of food security, the ministers expressed concern over the significant number of people globally who lack adequate access to food. They acknowledged the multifaceted drivers of food insecurity, including conflicts, climate change, economic volatility, and land degradation. In light of this, they highlighted the global responsibility to respond to the risks of food insecurity. The ministers further noted the adverse impact of the war in Ukraine on humanitarian consequences and global food security and called for international cooperation to address these impacts.

Recognizing the threats posed by climate change, the ministers emphasized its disproportionate effect on women and girls, particularly those in rural and developing areas. They underscored the need for sustainable agricultural practices and increased participation of women in decision-making processes related to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

In conclusion, the ministers expressed their gratitude to Mongolia, as the host country, and co-organizers Germany and France for the successful organization of the Female Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. They pledged to continue their joint efforts in implementing the commitments outlined in the declaration. This historic gathering further solidified their dedication to advancing gender equality, peace, and food security on a global scale.

The statement comes as secondary schools remain closed for girls for nearly two years, and women have been banned from attending universities and working in non-governmental organizations since last December. The Taliban has not proposed a new plan to address these two matters.