A number of women on Sunday reacted to a recent statement by the Qatari prime minister regarding his visit to Kandahar, Afghanistan, asserting that the visit has not resulted in any change in the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls and that restrictions on them have increased since then.
The women called on the international community to exert more pressure on the Taliban and explore alternative strategies.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, disclosed that earlier this year, he met with the Taliban’s reclusive supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, and conveyed to him and other Taliban leaders the need for cooperation with the international community if they wish to be recognized on the global stage.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Al Thani mentioned that the Taliban had agreed to make some progress, albeit on a smaller scale, particularly concerning women’s employment.
On May 12, 2023, Qatar’s prime minister visited Kandahar, where he held a historic meeting with the Taliban’s supreme leader. This meeting marked the first known encounter between Akhundzada and a foreign official.
However, two months after Qatar’s Prime Minister’s visit, the Taliban implemented restrictions, including the closure of women’s hair salons, barring female students from participating in university entrance examinations, and restricting the movement of women to Band-e-Amir National Park in Bamiyan.
Maryam Arwin, a women’s rights activist, expressed her hope that both the people of Afghanistan and the international community would intensify pressure on the Taliban, instead of relying solely on the notion of reform.
“We hope that the people of Afghanistan and the international community bring more pressure on the Taliban instead of the idea of reforming them to improve women’s situation in Afghanistan,” said said.
Mawluda Tawana, another women’s rights activist, expressed skepticism, stating, “There is no hope from such meetings, as relations are based on countries’ interests.”
Shiwa, 30, is one of many women who lost their jobs due to Taliban decrees. Trained in computer science, she previously worked for a non-governmental organization but is now unemployed, facing economic hardships.
“I am jobless over the past year. Previously, I was the breadwinner for my family but after the Taliban takeover, we gradually lost our jobs,” she said.
Prior to the collapse of the previous Afghan government, Qatar had established a political office for the Taliban in Doha. This office served as a platform for dialogue and engagement with the international community, particularly the United States.
Qatar holds significant influence over the Taliban and played a crucial role in facilitating the evacuation of foreign citizens after the fall of the Afghan republic. The country also hosted 18-month-long peace talks between the United States and the Taliban.
The Taliban’s political office in Doha remains operational, with Sohail Shahin, its head, occasionally engaging with top Taliban officials and U.S. representatives.
Qatar’s Prime Minister’s visit to Kandahar is a significant diplomatic milestone, making him the highest-ranking foreign official to visit the city since the Taliban regained power.