Afghanistan: Women urge next Doha meeting to address restrictions

As the third meeting in Doha approaches, a number of women and girls are calling on participants to make lifting restrictions on them in Afghanistan a priority.

Women said they have endured severe hardships under numerous restrictions for nearly three years.

They are urging the United Nations to pressure the Taliban to respect the rights and freedoms of women and girls.

The meeting, hosted by the United Nations and set to take place in the early days of next month, holds significant expectations for Afghan women and girls.

“I want the officials to focus more on the restrictions on women, on reopening schools and universities, and on women returning to work. As an Afghan girl, I want there to be a greater focus on women,” Safura, a resident of Maidan Wardak, said.

Shabana, from Herat, added, “At the Doha meeting, I urge the UN representative and the representative for women to engage in effective dialogue about lifting restrictions on women.”

The protesting women demand that the United Nations intensify pressure on the Taliban and maintain that until the Taliban respect women’s rights and freedoms, normalization of relations should not occur.

Masoudeh Kohestani, a women’s rights activist, stated, “While the United Nations tries to organize a meeting in Doha with the Taliban, protesting women are striving for the recognition of gender apartheid. Our demand from the United Nations is to recognize gender apartheid and hold the Taliban accountable for human rights abuses before any meeting takes place.”

Ayesha Sultani, another women’s rights activist, emphasized, “We ask the United Nations not to normalize the Taliban’s presence at global meetings. The Taliban do not represent the Afghan people and should not have the right to participate in such sessions.”

As concerns grow over the continuation of the Taliban’s stringent policies, the United Nations has noted that since their return to power, the Taliban have issued over fifty decrees that significantly restrict or outright strip away the freedoms and rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.