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Afghan women and girls must be included in upcoming Doha meeting: UN women’s rights committee

28 June 2024

Geneva (28 June 2024) - The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is deeply concerned about the exclusion of women and girls from the upcoming third UN-convened meeting on Afghanistan, scheduled to commence on 30 June in Doha, Qatar. The Committee calls for active and direct inclusion of women and girls in these discussions which pertain to the most serious crisis in women’s rights globally.

Failure to ensure participation will only further silence Afghan women and girls already facing escalating violations of their rights as prescribed by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Committee has, time and again, expressed concern at the deteriorating situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, causing immense and irreversible harm to current and future generations. The continued denial of education and employment, restrictions on movement and curtailed presence in public spaces, has increasingly entrenched exclusion of women from public life since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

The de facto authorities’ recent decision to reduce to their lowest level the salaries of women civil servants barred from employment, regardless of experience or qualifications, reflects an additional deliberate and harmful measure to disempower women in Afghanistan.

The failure to include Afghan civil society, including women human rights defenders, as meaningful participants in the Doha discussions, will render the rights of women and girls inadequately addressed. This would be in contradiction to the CEDAW Convention and UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 on women peace and 2721.

Excluding women and girls from these discussions will only serve to undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the Doha meeting and give way to the conduct of the de facto authorities in excluding women and girls from public life.

The Committee stresses that the de facto authorities have an obligation to uphold the human rights protected under customary international law and human rights treaties to which Afghanistan is party, including the CEDAW Convention.

In light of the current situation faced by Afghan women and girls, compliance with the CEDAW Convention and the Committee’s upcoming general recommendation No. 40 on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems, in consultation with civil society and women human rights defenders, should have been a priority topic of discussion at Doha.

The Committee has decided to explore the possibility of considering the fourth periodic report of Afghanistan, following the modalities of the recent fourth cycle Universal Periodic Review of Afghanistan. This will provide an important opportunity to hear the voices of women and girls.

The Committee urges the de facto authorities to take immediate action to reverse the institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination, tantamount to a form of gender apartheid, and respect and protect the rights of women and girls and ensure their meaningful participation and inclusion in all spheres of political, public, economic and social life.

We urge the international community to ensure that women’s rights are central to discussions with the de facto authorities, and that all possible actions are taken to elevate rather than marginalise the voices of Afghan women and girls.

For more information and media requests in Geneva, please contact
Safa Msehli at [email protected]

Vivian Kwok at [email protected] 
UN Human Rights Office Media Section at [email protected]

Background
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors States parties’ compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which to date has 189 States parties. The Committee is made up of 23 members who are independent human rights experts from around the world elected by the States parties, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.