UK at UN: Afghan Women, Girls Will Not Accept Life on Sidelines

Barbara Woodward, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN expressed deep concern over the imposed restrictions against women and girls in Afghanistan.

The United Nations Security Council’s meeting on Afghanistan was held behind closed doors and the UK representative said the Islamic Emirate wants to “remove women and girls entirely from public life.”

After the meeting, Barbara Woodward told reporters:

“The council has just been meeting to discuss the latest situation in Afghanistan, following the regressive decree by the Taliban ordering women and girls to cover their entire face and body in public and banning them from going outdoors without a male chaperone. These are women who have grown up with the opportunities that they are entitled to, and that women in Afghanistan did not have 20 years ago. They have benefited from education, a thriving cultural environment, the ability to work and make decisions about their own future. 3.6 million girls were in school, a quarter of the seats in parliament were held by women, women were 20% of the work force before the Taliban takeover, and now the Taliban is seeking to strip all of that away.”

She said, “They want to remove women and girls entirely from public life.”

Woodward continued:

“But as the UK’s minister for Afghanistan Lord Ahmad has said previously in the Council, Islam is clear on equality for girls and the rights of women. It is hard to see that the international community and importantly the Afghan people will ever respect the Taliban as legitimate authorities if this is the future for Afghanistan that they pursue, because half of its population, women and girls, will not and should not have to accept a life banished to the sidelines, nor will their brothers, fathers and sons. So it is regressive. It is wrong. And I think it underlines the Taliban inability to lead Afghanistan out of its current economic, social and humanitarian crisis.” Barbara added.

Meanwhile, Norway’s representative at the UN in a statement said the Islamic Emirate policies continue to focus on oppressing women and girls rather than addressing the economic crisis.

Deputy Permanent Representative Trine Heimerback, ahead of closed consultations in the Security Council on Afghanistan, said: “Since the Taliban came to power, women’s and girls’ rights have been rolled back in areas of great importance to their lives: like access to education, employment and healthcare, and even to move around freely. The consequences are that women are excluded from public life.”

“If they wanted to talk about the fate of Afghan people responsibly, they have to keep the doors open and let the media cover what is going on there, at the meeting,” said Hamid Azizi, a university teacher.

Norway added that restrictions will limit Afghanistan’s ability to respond to the catastrophic economic and humanitarian situation, which again may lead to violence and radicalization.