Blinken slams Taliban for stifling Afghanistan’s potential with restrictions on women

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the Taliban for stifling Afghanistan’s growth through severe restrictions on women and girls. Speaking at a session of the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience, Blinken highlighted the adverse impact of such policies on the country’s potential.

“The Taliban’s restrictions are suffocating Afghanistan’s potential,” Blinken stated, pointing out the determination of Afghan women and girls to pursue education and contribute to their communities despite prohibitive measures.

Blinken emphasized the comprehensive nature of these restrictions, noting, “The Taliban continues to deny women and girls access to secondary school and universities and blocks their participation in entire sectors of the Afghan economy. They continue to limit the movements of women and girls outside their homes and persecute those who speak up or speak out.”

He argued that these decrees not only infringe upon fundamental freedoms and human rights but also contradict the desires of the Afghan population. “Taliban’s decrees violate women’s fundamental freedoms and human rights in the most basic ways. But, perhaps more importantly, they also go against the will of the people of Afghanistan,” Blinken added.

Highlighting the economic implications, the Secretary of State remarked, “If women and girls were able to learn, able to work, the whole country would benefit. Women could contribute over a billion dollars to the Afghan economy.”

Blinken underscored the importance of economic opportunities in achieving sustainable peace and security, stating, “Economic opportunity is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and security. So, women’s contributions would also help create a more resilient society.”

Concluding his remarks, Blinken lamented the loss to Afghanistan if women and girls are not allowed to reach their full potential. “This is Afghanistan’s loss,” he said. “Women and girls are determined to study, determined to chart their own path, and determined to contribute to the future of their communities despite the extraordinary obstacles they face.”