A MESSAGE FROM THE WOMEN’S FORUM ON AFGHANISTAN
On 20 September 2021, a number of Afghan women leaders met with global women leaders from Afghanistan, Argentina, Greece, Ireland, Liberia, Nepal, Turkey, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States. The group included a former president, ministers, ambassadors, high-level UN officials, judges, legislators, journalists, academics, artists, and human rights advocates. Margot Wallström, former Foreign Minister of Sweden, chaired the meeting, which was convened by the Roosevelt House Human Rights Program in collaboration with the Sisterhood is Global Institute and Women for Afghan Women.
The meeting expressed global solidarity with the women of Afghanistan (SEE VIDEO) and underscored the interdependence of women’s equality and socio-political stability. The repression of women and girls leads to state fragility and failure, threatening regional and global stability. Afghanistan is heading in that direction under the Taliban. They must change course.
The immediate priority is humanitarian assistance, including to sustain the national education and health systems. Humanitarian actors – UN agencies, IFRC, ICRC, global NGOs – must live up to their professed commitments to gender equality in all aspects of their efforts to deliver assistance to the people of Afghanistan who are in desperate need. They must include women as decision makers, negotiators, project managers and direct recipients, and work with and through Afghan women groups and leaders on the ground and outside the country.
Efforts must continue to support the evacuation from Afghans who are at risk, especially women judges and women’s rights advocates. Disappointment was expressed regarding the failure of the global community, particularly the United States and other Western countries, to readily provide refuge for these women, and a call was made to prioritize and facilitate the safe relocation of Afghan women who have put their lives on the line to defend and promote women’s rights. Muslim women participating in the meeting called for a global dialogue within the religious community to clarify that the ideology of the Taliban and their efforts to deny women fundamental human rights are incompatible with the tenets of Islam.
Women’s rights in Afghanistan - access to education, employment, political participation, resources and freedom of movement - will be a litmus test for the Taliban and the global community. We remind the UN Security Council of its recognition that gender equality and women’s empowerment is critical to international peace and security. These words must be given real meaning in Afghanistan. We call on the Security Council to hold the Taliban accountable for the rights set forth in the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, to which Afghanistan is a party. While we recognize the reality of the Taliban in power, official recognition should not precede their clear demonstration of respect for women’s fundamental rights under international law. A human rights monitoring mechanism should be established by the Human Rights Council.
Women are standing up for their rights in Afghanistan and they will not be stopped. We are with them.
Former Chair of UN CEDAW, Former President of GREVIO (Council of Europe), Founding Chair of Gender and Women's Studies Graduate Program at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey
Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
Executive Director, Afghan Women’s Network
Senior Fellow, NYU Center for Global Affairs and Center for International Cooperation
Naheed Samadi Bahram
US County Director, Women for Afghan Women
President DIKTIO, Former European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Former Minister of Education and Former Minister of Development of Greece
Founder of the Women & Peace Studies Organization, Local Women’s Peace-builders Networks, Afghanistan
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa
Former Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
Former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Former UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
Former Member of Afghan Parliament, Former Vice-President of the Afghan National Assembly
Co-Founder and CEO of the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace
Award Winning Actress and Women’s Rights Advocate
Founder, GWL Voices, Former Foreign Minister of Argentina, Former Chef de Cabinet to UN Secretary- General
Co-Founder and President of the Sisterhood is Global Institute, Host of Women’s Media Center Live
Rita E. Hauser Director, Roosevelt House Human Rights Program, Former New York Director of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Co-Founder of Equality Now, Donor Direct Action
Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright
Founder and Director, Karama
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Former Judge of the International Criminal Court
Former President of Ireland, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Founder of Women for Women International
Former Minister for Women’s Affairs, Afghanistan
Author/Journalist/Women’s Rights Activist
Former Foreign Minister of Sweden, Former UN SRSG for Sexual Violence in Conflict
Co-Founder, Afghan Women’s Network, Former Director General of Human Rights and International Women’s Affairs of Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Member of the OIC Independent Human Rights Commission
Executive Director of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, Afghanistan
of women’s organizations had an annual income of less than $100,000, and 36% had less than $25,000.
*Statistic according to a 2008 Association of Women in Development survey