“I take note of the public commitments made by the Taliban’s spokesperson to uphold women’s rights “within the framework of Islam”, including women’s right to work, to pursue higher education and to have an active role in society, as well as the right of girls to attend school. The immediate inclusion of women in the governance structure of the new leadership in Afghanistan will be the ultimate litmus test for the Taliban,” stated Ms. Patten.
The full and complete development of Afghanistan and the cause of peace require the equal and meaningful participation of women in all fields including public and political life. Women’s full participation is essential not only for their empowerment but also for the advancement of society as a whole. The Taliban leadership must take bold steps to fully include women in decision-making at all levels, both nationally and internationally, so that they may continue to make their contribution to the goals of equality, development and peace.
The supreme law of Afghanistan, its Constitution adopted in 2004, includes clear provisions on the equal rights of all citizens including women’s participation in the political life of the country. Afghanistan also ratified, without reservation, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and adopted, in 2015, a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security to ensure the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1325. These commitments are binding and must be acted upon immediately.
“As Afghanistan embarks on building a new future, I call on the Taliban leadership to: (1) reaffirm their commitment to comply with constitutional provisions and international treaties which guarantee equality to all citizens; (2) guarantee the full and equal participation of women in the political and decision-making processes; (3) ensure women are protected from gender-based threats and attacks, which violate their rights and impede their effective participation; and (4) reaffirm the aim of achieving broad representation in public life, by ensuring women have full equality in the exercise of political and economic power,” said Ms. Patten.
“Further to the United Nations Security Council resolution adopted 30 August, reaffirming the importance of upholding human rights, including the rights of women, and encouraging all parties to seek an inclusive, negotiated political settlement that ensures the full, equal and meaningful representation of women, I call on the international community to sustain its attention and action to ensure women’s rights are non-negotiable,” added Ms. Patten.
Afghan women’s rights activists have fought for their rights and have made considerable progress. These hard-won gains cannot be reversed or rolled back. The inclusion of women in the governance architecture will be the litmus test for the new political leadership of Afghanistan. Urgent action is needed now to ensure the full participation of women in the public and political life of Afghanistan.