Guterres, others condemn Taliban ban on women working for UN

Guterres, others condemn Taliban ban on women working for UN

UN Sec. Gen António Guterres

By Cecilia Ologunagba

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned the Taliban ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations (UN), describing it as violation of their inalienable fundamental human rights.

Guterres in a statement by his Spokesperson, Mr Stephane Dujarric, said the latest escalation of the de facto authorities’ suppression of women violated their obligations under international human rights.

“It violates Afghanistan’s obligations under international human rights law, and infringes on the principle of non-discrimination, which is a core tenet underpinning the United Nations Charter,” he said.

Since overthrowing the democratically elected Government of Afghanistan in August 2021, Taliban leaders have steadily eroded the rights of women and girls in public life.

It has ended the right of women and girls by introducing a ban on secondary schooling, higher education, working for non-governmental organisations, and their rights to freedom of movement.

Bans are already in force preventing them in effect from working, studying, and travelling without male chaperones.

The UN chief said that female staff members were essential for all UN operations, which are directed by the Assistance Mission in the country, (UNAMA), and which include the delivery of life-saving assistance.

“The enforcement of this decision will harm the Afghan people, millions of whom are in need of this assistance.

“The secretary-general calls on the Taliban to immediately revoke the decision and reverse all measures that restrict women’s and girls’ rights to work, education and freedom of movement,” he said.

In the same vein, Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, described the latest escalation of the de facto authorities’ suppression of women, as a violation of their inalienable fundamental human rights.

Speaking with journalists at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday, ahead of a sustainable development report briefing, Mohammed recalled the plight of women in Afghanistan in her last visit to the country.

The UN deputy chief said that she had met many of the women now facing a ban and the loss of their livelihoods, in a visit to Afghanistan at the beginning of the year.

“We reiterate that both Afghan women and men are essential to all aspects of our work,” she said, adding that the UN is taking all possible measures right now to support its national female staff at this difficult time.

She said UN national female staff would continue to receive their salaries, but until further clarification is received, all national staff – both men and women – are being told not to report to the office.

Mohammed said she had been involved in a meeting with the Foreign Affairs minister of the de facto authorities on Wednesday morning.

She pledged that UN leadership would continue to engage with Taliban representatives, as well as neighbouring countries to resolve the latest human rights infringements.

The President of the General Assembly, Csaba Korosi, also strongly condemned the move, calling it a “blatant violation” of women and girls’ human rights.

“The consequences of this decision would harm the Afghan people, in particular the most vulnerable segments of the population,” he said.

He noted that Afghanistan needed to get on the path towards sustainable development, “and for that, it should mobilize the country’s full potential.”

Also, the UN human rights chief Volker Türk, described the latest erosion of rights for women in Afghanistan as an “utterly despicable” move.

“This is a systematic, relentless assault on the people of Afghanistan as a whole by the Taliban”, he said, who he said seemed to be working to incapacitate, intimidate and harass half of the population.

He called on the leadership to rethink all of the restrictive policies introduced to curb women’s rights, for the sake of the future of the country.


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