In a United Nations (UN) report released in September, UN Women, IOM and UNAMA interviewed 592 Afghan women from 22 of 34 provinces of Afghanistan. The study aimed at understanding priorities, views of international engagement, and recommendations to improve women’s rights and well-being. The findings illustrate just how untenable life in Afghanistan has become for women and girls.
Sixty-nine per cent of the women “reported that feelings of anxiety, isolation, and depression have significantly worsened” as they are shut out from public life and continue to lose more of their rights. Almost two thirds of women never interacted with a man outside of their family. In some regions 94% of women hadn’t interacted with a man outside their family, even fearing speaking with shopkeepers due to the negative repercussions from the authorities. The Taliban’s goal of restricting women to the home extends to employment as “[80%] of women noted their ability to undertake income-generating activities had decreased.”
Of those surveyed women, 96% strongly opposed international recognition of the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan either completely or with conditions of dramatic improvement of human rights in the country. The report stated that “[w]omen urged the international community not to consider recognition under the current conditions for women and girls as these are akin to imprisonment.”
Still women hope for international intervention focused on gender equality and women’s rights issues with “women desperately seeking international support for immediate action to survive the crisis”. Afghan women implore for long and short term solutions from the international community such as including “Afghan women in negotiations with the Taliban, particularly on women’s rights.” Their top two priorities remain women’s education and women’s safety and security.
The women interviewed also recommended a host of other solutions including methods for addressing advocacy and engagement with the de facto authorities, political participation of women, economic empowerment, and health and safety.
UN September 2023