UN asks Taliban to reverse education ban for women and stop ‘relentless misogyny’

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has asked the Taliban to implement full, equal and meaningful participation of girls and women in its regime in Afghanistan and urged it to roll back the “unjustifiable” decree on the education of its female population.

“...the decree issued on 24 December barring women from working in national and international NGOs is yet another stark violation of women’s rights and humanitarian principles,” said Sima Bahous, UN Women executive director on Tuesday, adding that once again the de facto rulers of Afghanistan have found “new ways to harm the women and girls” in its country.

“This is relentless misogyny, a virulent attack on women, their contribution, their freedom and their voice. It is yet another repudiation of every norm and standard of women’s human rights and respect for human dignity,” Ms Bahous said in her remarks.

The UNSC strongly condemns this move by the Taliban without reservation, the statement added.

The top officer’s remarks were followed by the global body’s secretary general Antonio Guterres calling the latest restrictions by the Taliban on employment and education of women and girls as “unjustifiable human rights violations”, asking for it to be revoked.

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“Actions to exclude and silence women and girls continue to cause immense suffering and major setbacks to the potential of the Afghan people,” the UN chief said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The statement by the UNSC’s 15-member council has said that the hardline Islamist regime’s ban "represents an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Within months of storming to power in Kabul, the Taliban have denied education to girls and women in the country, defending it by blaming the female students for not donning the hijab properly and pursuing subjects of science that do not match “Afghanistan culture”.

“We told girls to have proper hijab but they didn’t and they wore dresses like they are going to a wedding ceremony,” the caretaker government’s education minister Nida Mohammad Nadim said last week after furore on the regime’s move.

“Girls were studying agriculture and engineering, but this didn’t match Afghan culture. Girls should learn, but not in areas that go against Islam and Afghan honour,” the Taliban leader said.

The Taliban issued another ban on the women in the country by restricting them from working in local and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Afghanistan, by also blaming the lack of proper wearing of hijab.

This led to suspension of operations by four major global aid groups who have helped millions of Afghans with their humanitarian efforts and said that they were unable to run their programmes without female staff.

At least 97 per cent of the country’s population lives in abject poverty and two-thirds of the population need aid to survive in the regime led by insurgents, the UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the security council last week.

Around 1.1 million teenage girls have been banned from attending schools and 20 million face acute hunger in just 16 months of rule by the Taliban which took control of Kabul by force last year and overran the US-led administration.