Women’s rights group urges Doha meeting to address Taliban’s ‘gender apartheid’

The Women and Children Research and Advocacy Network, representing 35 women activists inside and outside Afghanistan and 170 individuals, has issued an open letter calling on participants of the upcoming Doha meeting to recognize the “gender apartheid” under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

The letter states that the Taliban have deprived over 18 million Afghans of basic human rights, subjecting them to daily physical and psychological torture. It criticized the recent UN special coordinator’s independent assessment as “not comprehensive and inclusive,” claiming it fails to accurately reflect the country’s situation, especially regarding gender apartheid.

The group emphasized the need for the UN to appoint a special envoy who is an international human rights specialist with a focus on women’s rights protection and promotion. “We urge that this special envoy not be affiliated with any specific Afghan tribe or ethnic group,” the letter reads.

The network also called for the Doha meeting to be broadcast publicly, allowing Afghan women to be informed about international decisions regarding their rights and future. It argued that political decisions made at the conference should align with the desires and needs of the Afghan people, warning that any political agreement excluding women’s participation would only lead to further instability and poverty in Afghanistan.

The UN-hosted special envoys’ meeting on Afghanistan is scheduled for February 18-19 in Doha, Qatar. Since their return to power, the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on women, including bans on education, work, and participation in public spaces.