UN Security Council demands Taliban 'swiftly reverse' women bans

It cited access to education, employment, freedom of movement, and "women's full, equal and meaningful participation in public life."
Representational image of United Nations (File Photo | AP)
Representational image of United Nations (File Photo | AP)

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council adopted a resolution Thursday calling on Taliban authorities to "swiftly reverse" all restrictive measures against women, condemning, in particular, its ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations.

The resolution, unanimously adopted by all 15 Council members, said the ban announced in early April "undermines human rights and humanitarian principles."

More broadly, the Council called on the Taliban government to "swiftly reverse the policies and practices that restrict the enjoyment by women and girls of their human rights and fundamental freedoms."

It cited access to education, employment, freedom of movement, and "women's full, equal and meaningful participation in public life."

The Council also urged "all States and organizations to use their influence" to "promote an urgent reversal of these policies and practices."

The body stressed "the dire economic and humanitarian situation," and the "critical importance of a continued presence" of the UN mission in Afghanistan and other UN agencies.

"The world will not sit by silently as women in Afghanistan are erased from society," United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the UN Lana Zaki Nusseibeh said.

But despite his country's vote in favour of the resolution, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzia criticized the text, saying it did not go far enough, blaming the West.

"We seriously regret and are disappointed that steps and a more ambitious approach and texts were blocked by Western colleagues," he said.

"If you're so sincere, why not return the assets you've stolen from the country and without any preconditions," he said, referencing the USD 7 billion in Afghan central bank assets frozen by the United States after the Taliban took over the country in 2021.

In September, the United States announced the creation of a fund based in Switzerland to manage half the money.

The United Nations announced on April 4 that the Taliban authorities had banned Afghan women from working for UN offices countrywide, after in December banning women from working for domestic and foreign nongovernmental organizations.

Several NGOs suspended their entire operations in protest, piling further misery on Afghanistan's 38 million citizens, half of whom are facing hunger, according to aid agencies.

After days of wrangling, it was then agreed that women working in the health aid sector would be exempt from the decree, before the Taliban authorities' ruling banning the Afghan women UN workers earlier this month.

The move sparked opprobrium from the West and a United Nations review of the world body's Afghanistan operations, which is to last until May 5.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is organizing a meeting in Doha next week with envoys from various countries to "reinvigorate the international engagement around the common objectives for a durable way forward on the situation in Afghanistan."

Since the return to power by Taliban forces in August 2021, they have reverted to an austere interpretation of Islam that marked their first period in power from 1996 to 2001.

A slew of restrictions on Afghan women has included banning them from higher education and many government jobs.

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