UN urged to prioritize Afghan women’s rights at upcoming Doha meeting

Women’s protest in Kabul. 2022. File Photo.

Ahead of the UN-convened meeting in Doha on Feb. 18-19, a number of rights organizations have appealed to the UN Secretary-General, emphasizing the critical importance of Afghan women’s rights. The meeting, focusing on an independent assessment mandated by Resolution 2679 (2023), will discuss Afghanistan’s future.

Since the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover, over 80 restrictions have been imposed on Afghan women, affecting education, work, movement, dress, and public participation. International experts, including the UN Secretary-General, have labeled this as gender apartheid.

The letter, spearheaded by Kaavya Asoka, Executive Director of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, urges the inclusion of diverse Afghan women in the Doha discussions. It emphasizes that Afghan women’s rights are non-negotiable and their participation is crucial for credible and meaningful discussions.

“The upcoming Doha meeting offers an important opportunity for the UN, the Security Council, and the international community to reaffirm that the rights of Afghan women are not negotiable,” stated the letter.

The letter highlights the necessity of making women’s rights a core objective in discussions about Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis, economy, development efforts, and displacement. It calls for immediate reversal of restrictions on Afghan women, cessation of targeting women human rights defenders, and accountability for human rights violations.

Moreover, the group insists that the UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan must have a strong background in human rights and women’s rights, and that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) continues its vital role in monitoring and advocating for human rights, including women’s rights.

The letter concludes by urging the UN Secretary-General to publicly share the meeting’s outcomes and how they will shape the international community’s approach in Afghanistan.

Signatories of the letter include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, MADRE, Outright International, Refugees International, and other organizations dedicated to women’s peace and security.