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Kabul [Afghanistan], September 9 (ANI): The Taliban's engagement with global bodies will depend upon ensuring that women's rights are secured in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Naciri, UN Women Regional Director for the Asia Pacific said, "Women's rights must be the litmus test for our collective engagement with the Taliban," reported Pajhwok Afghan News.
Afghan women have spent 20 years reclaiming the public space they were so brutally denied from 1996 to 2001 under Taliban rule. They have led provinces and cities, joined the police force, competed in the Olympics, and become engineers, doctors and diplomats, often defying gender stereotypes. They have advocated for social change, human rights and peace, demanding to be listened to.
They have done this with the encouragement, funding and support of the United Nations, including the organisation - UN Women - as well as foreign development partners, and international civil society. In doing this, they have put their lives on the line to help build a new country, as demonstrated by the assassinations of hundreds of women's human rights defenders and high-profile female leaders between 2001 and today, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.
Now, these same women face, at best, an uncertain future - either in exile or confined to their homes - or in the grimmest of scenarios, no real future at all, said Naciri.
"The decisions that are made in the coming days on how the international community will engage with the Taliban will have long-term implications," added Naciri.
The Taliban's position, in turn, is equally unclear - whether they will seek international legitimacy, turn to their established friends for support or turn inward.
The Taliban have made no mention of women as part of any governance structure and on Tuesday, a Taliban spokesperson recommended women stay at home, for their own protection, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.
Women's voices have been banned from radio, and they are disappearing from the media landscape. Reports are flooding in from across the country of girls being forced to marry, of women being prevented from working, with their jobs offered to male family members and of women's safe spaces being looted and destroyed.
Over the weekend, the Taliban broke up a demonstration by dozens of women in Kabul - with the protesters saying they were targeted with tear gas.
"Hundreds of women took to the streets in Kabul, Parwan and Badakhshan on Wednesday after an acting minister for Women Affairs was not announced among other ministers in the cabinet listed by the Taliban on Tuesday. The women called for their meaningful inclusion in the government," tweeted Tolo News.
The Taliban had announced its "Islamic Emirate" cabinet of 33 ministers in its caretaker government with no women representative in the decision-making process.
The entire infrastructure of support for women who have experienced violence has collapsed overnight, from the courts and the government-run Family Response Units to shelters and safe houses, said Naciri.
"As the Taliban seeks to establish a new normal, the international community must be unified and clear on what our common lines for engagement are. The first must be participation," added Naciri.
"The second must be guaranteed access to healthcare. Thirdly, women must be allowed to work in any field of their choosing and participate fully in public life, including in the delivery of humanitarian assistance," Naciri further said. (ANI)