Taliban officials pledge to ‘protect the religious rights’ of women
Human rights groups have voiced concerns about gender-based discrimination amid a growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan
By News Desk - March 08 2022

(Photo credit: UNAMA)

Taliban officials said on 8 March that they are committed to “protecting the religious rights” of Afghan women on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

“The Islamic Emirate is committed to upholding the Sharia rights of all Afghan women,” the spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Zabihullah Mujahid, said via a tweet.

The country’s ministry of foreign affairs also released a statement describing the date as an “auspicious day for women.”

“Protracted war in Afghanistan has been extremely detrimental for women. [The IEA] is committed to addressing the plight of Afghan women and providing facilities for an honorable and beneficial life in the light of the noble religion of Islam and our accepted traditions,” the statement reads.

Since their victory against the US-backed Afghan government last August, the Taliban has pledged numerous times to respect the rights of women and girls in accordance with Islamic law.

However, human rights groups have raised concerns that women may face widespread discrimination as was the case during the previous rule of the Taliban in the country.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a statement on 8 March saying it “stands by Afghan women and girls as they face the consequences of multiple crises combined with gender inequality and discrimination.”

“What we are witnessing today in Afghanistan is a crisis of catastrophic proportions. Everyone in the country is affected by the current crises, but the situation for women and girls is particularly concerning as their rights and access to opportunities have become increasingly challenged,” the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, said in the statement.

The UNAMA official went on to add that the organization “remains firm in our belief that no durable peace, recovery, or stability is possible without women’s active engagement and participation in the social, economic, and political life of their country.”

Following the dissolution of the Taliban in the 2000s, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran forged ties with more moderate factions of the Taliban to boost their power.

That faction currently makes up the leadership of the Second Islamic Emirate, which has pledged to not repeat the excesses and violations of the First Islamic Emirate when it comes to religious minorities and women, encouraging women to serve in government positions.

Iran and China have also made it clear they are monitoring the Taliban’s adherence to these pledges as a condition for partnership, including in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Since the chaotic withdrawal of Washington’s troops from Afghanistan last year, the country has been experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis as a result of a US-led economic blockade.

This blockade has left nearly half the population of Afghanistan without adequate access to food and the government without sufficient revenue to carry out core duties, such as the provision of essential services or paying the salaries of civil servants.

Last month, the White House also issued an executive order allowing the use of 50 percent of over $7 billion in Afghan funds that are currently held in US banks to compensate the families of the 11 September attacks.

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