Female leaders call for ending violence against girls and women in Afghanistan

Female heads of countries called for the Taliban to refrain from violence against women and to uphold and advance the rights of girls and women in Afghanistan in a joint call released on Friday.

“We will continue to closely follow the developments and listen to the voices of Afghan women and girls,” said the women leaders in the statement, initiated by Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová and the Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Following the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan, the leaders urged the international community to pay close attention to the situation and rights of those that are currently among the most vulnerable in Afghanistan. 

“We especially call on the authorities in Afghanistan to prevent every form of violence towards women and girls,” they said.

Čaputová and Jakobsdóttir were joined by the Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen, the Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas, the Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin, the President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili, the President of Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė, the President of Moldova Maia Sandu, the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg and the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern. 

After the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the militants promised to uphold girls and women’s rights “within the framework of sharia,” according to the group’s first news conference in mid-August. However, women have all but disappeared from public spaces and there have been reports of women being denied entry to offices.

Girls could not attend school and women could not hold jobs or leave homes without a male guardian during the Taliban’s last stint in power between 1996 and 2001. The Taliban’s record on women’s rights leaves human rights workers deeply concerned.

“We are very worried about the status of women and children,” Henrietta Fore, chief of UNICEF the United Nations Childrens Fund, told CNBC on Tuesday.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s name.

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