US diplomat criticizes Taliban for completely erasing women, girls from society

US Charge d’Affaires Karen Decker

In a roundtable discussion with media on Wednesday, Karen Decker, the US charge d’affaires, criticized the Taliban’s severe restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan, stating that no other country has “so completely erased half its population.”

Decker highlighted that the Taliban have issued over 50 decrees limiting the freedoms of Afghan women, affecting their ability to work, study, travel, and even participate in cultural traditions such as Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the start of spring and the school year.

“No other country in the world has so completely erased half its population. These restrictions do not reflect Afghanistan’s history or its culture,” she said.

She noted, “For the third consecutive year, school doors remain closed to Afghan girls above the sixth grade, and public celebrations of Nowruz were banned.”

She said that ensuring the rights of women is not only a strategic imperative for Afghanistan but also an economic necessity.

“Denying education and employment to half of the country’s population weakens Afghanistan’s economy significantly, costing the nation an estimated billion dollars a year,” Decker added.

Furthermore, Decker linked the restrictions on women to broader issues such as Afghanistan’s dependency on foreign aid and the ongoing climate crisis.

She detailed how the worst drought in 27 years, combined with intense flooding, has impacted the country’s agriculture and food security. She added that women and girls, often responsible for fetching water, are disproportionately affected, further exacerbating their exclusion from education and the workforce.

“Climate change harms Afghanistan’s agriculture sector, where women form a large part of the labor force. The Taliban’s restrictions put them at a disadvantage, hindering the country’s ability to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” she said.

Decker emphasized the vital role women and girls play in solving Afghanistan’s problems, including climate change. “By educating girls and empowering women in the workplace, we advance not only gender equality but also strengthen Afghanistan’s resilience,” the US charge d’affaires concluded.