Afghanistan Global Womens Rights

Afghan Women Express Dread and Anxiety at the Possibility of Taliban Recognition 

In a country-wide women’s consultation conducted by three UN agencies, Afghan women have expressed “dread” and “anxiety” at the possibility of international recognition of the Taliban. 67% of women have said that recognition would severely affect their lives, especially as the Taliban is now often referred to as the de facto authorities (DFA). 

The consultations and survey on the situation of women in Afghanistan convened 745 Afghan women from across all 34 provinces. The report was put together by UN Women, the International Organization for Migration (UN Migration), and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). 

Among the participants, a majority stated that if such international recognition were to occur, it should only be contingent upon the removal of all restrictions in place by the Taliban against Afghan women and girls. 

Afghan women have described how the enforcement of the Taliban hijab decree, which demands head to toe coverage of a woman’s body, has increased harassment towards them and heightened their fears of being arrested and dishonored by being in police custody. It is considered shameful and dishonorable for the woman and her family when she is arrested and placed into custody, sometimes even resulting in suicide or death by her family. 

Women reported feeling unsafe leaving their home without a mahram or male guardian. One woman said that police informed her that they “sought to erase women from public spaces, step by step.” Following the report, UNAMA consulted 28 women in Kabul who had witnessed the DFA forces rounding up women and girls in public and taking them to police stations where they had to call a male family member to pick them up. The male family member then had to pay a fine and sign a document to ensure that the woman would wear the full coverage hijab in the future.

Only 1% of women felt they had “good” or “full” influence on community decision-making, a decrease from 17% in January 2023. Women lack the infrastructure to gather and share their views and experiences or to build community and engage on issues they consider important. Women spoke about the low levels of social trust with 96% reporting that “most people cannot be trusted,” including neighbors, because anybody could be a Taliban informant. This risk leads to women feeling unsafe in their own communities and unable to help their neighbors.

Women also described an “intergenerational and gendered impact” of the DFA restrictions on shifting attitudes of children. For example, boys appeared to be “internalizing the social and political subordination of their mothers and sisters.” Meanwhile, girls’ perceptions of their future were changing due to the current conditions.

Importantly, women requested that the international community not recognize the Taliban unless restrictions are removed. The Taliban has a current track record on women’s rights and “cannot be trusted to improve the current situation.” 

Women expressed their deep disappointment with Member States that engaged with the DFA, overlooking the “severity of an unprecedented women’s rights crisis” otherwise known as gender apartheid. Afghan women said that the best way to improve their situation was to link international aid to better conditions for women.


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