Next week, the Human Rights Council will seek to adopt a resolution on the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The context in which this takes place is of deep financial, humanitarian and human rights crises in the country, but also of political negligence by the international community.
Women have historically been key actors of change and at the forefront of human rights progress. In societies around the world, women’s movements have enhanced gender equality, secured essential advances in international law and standards, and built communities and societies that are more fair and just.
For this positive evolution to continue, women and girls need equal access to rights and freedoms. When their rights are restricted or completely denied, and discrimination on the basis of gender is institutionalised, then we are talking about gender apartheid.
This is what is happening to women and girls in Afghanistan. Since the country takeover by the Taliban in August 2021, they have been facing a human rights crisis, deprived of the fundamental rights to non-discrimination, education, work, public participation and health. The Taliban has also imposed draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement for women and girls.
“In Afghanistan, unprecedented, systemic attacks on women’s and girls’ rights and the flouting of international obligations are creating gender-based apartheid.”UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, 12 January 2023.