Women’s strong criticism of international meeting on Afghanistan

Under the auspices of the United Nations, a meeting was held in Doha on the situation in Afghanistan, attended by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and special envoys from 21 countries, as well as representatives of the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The conclave aimed to reach common ground on key issues such as human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls, inclusive governance, counter-terrorism and drug trafficking. In addition, the meeting aimed to formulate a common understanding useful to the international community on how to engage with the Taliban on these issues.

At a press conference, Guterres alluded to concerns about the gravity of the situation in Afghanistan:

“It is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today. Ninety-seven percent of Afghans live in poverty. Two-thirds of the population – 28 million – will need humanitarian aid this year to survive. Six million Afghan children, women and men are one step away from living in famine-like conditions,” he said, noting that aid programmes are underfunded at 6.4 per cent of the estimated $4.6 billion needed.

But funding is not the only preoccupation. Participating delegations highlighted the problem of the continued presence of terrorist organisations, the expansion of drug trafficking and the widespread violation of human rights, particularly of women and girls, which have been severely undermined by recent Taliban decisions.

The Taliban government has stripped Afghan women of virtually all basic rights, prohibiting most employment and schooling for girls over the age of 12. Under threat of severe punishment, they cannot travel unaccompanied by men, nor go to parks or bathhouses alone. They are also barred from working for international organisations, which makes humanitarian work on the ground very difficult.

The weekend before the meeting organised by Guterres, many demonstrations took place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other European countries, in which women criticised the meeting as a way of legitimising the Taliban regime.

Pressenza Kabul