A number of women leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York are vocally advocating for Afghan women and girls, saying their rights should not be taken away and the Taliban should refrain from violence.
The female political leaders of countries called for the Taliban to refrain from violence against women and to uphold and advance the rights of girls and women in Afghanistan in a joint call released on Friday.
“We will continue to closely follow the developments and listen to the voices of Afghan women and girls,” said the women leaders in the statement, initiated by Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová and the Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Following the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan, the leaders urged the international community to pay close attention to the situation and rights of those that are currently among the most vulnerable in Afghanistan.
“We especially call on the authorities in Afghanistan to prevent every form of violence towards women and girls,” they said.
These politicians in their meetings with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated that Afghan women and girls must retain their rights, and they called on others to help support the initiative.
Slovakia President Zuzana Čaputová said Afghan women and girls have achieved rights over the past two decades and this achievement must not be lost.
“Over the past two decades, girls and women in Afghanistan could exercise their legitimate rights. This must not be taken away. Together with the prime minister of Iceland, the prime minister of New Zealand and other women political leaders, we have launched a call to support Afghan girls and women,” she said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women on Sunday protested outside the UN headquarters in New York over what they called human rights and women’s rights violations by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Fatima Rahmati, an Afghan woman protester residing in the US, said: “Women make up half the world. So, when you begin to (not let them) work, the repercussions of that are dire.”
Protests are happening in other countries as well. Semona Lanzoni, an Afghan woman residing in Italy and participating in a protest, said: “My message to all Afghanistan women is that we never lose hope. We will fight and we will take it.”
In Afghanistan, a number of activists and women's rights defenders said they are unable to continue their activities.
Roya Afghanyar, an Afghan who worked as a women's rights activist for the past 20 years, said that following the collapse of the former government she has been unable to continue her activity. “Woman are living in very bad conditions. They have lost their right to education and to work. This government that calls itself the government of Afghanistan should give us our rights,” she said.
“After the fall of the former government, women are locked at home. We are like prisoners in Afghanistan. We are disappointed,” said Keya Sadat, a civil society activist.
Shakila Mujadadi, a women's rights defender, said: “The United Nations should focus on the limitations that the Taliban has imposed on the people of Afghanistan, especially women; that is what the people of Afghanistan deserve.”
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) meanwhile said the commission’s activities for defending women’s rights are ongoing. “We urge the international community and the new government in Afghanistan to respect women’s rights and to not allow women to become victims,” said Banafsha Yaqoubi, an AIHRC commissioner.
A number of women on Sunday protested outside the building of the former women's affairs ministry in Kabul. The Taliban, however, prevented media from covering the protest.