USG Rosemary DiCarlo’s statement for the
UNGA 78 High-level event on
‘Global Solidarity with Afghan Women and Girls’
Co-hosted by Ireland and Women’s Forum on Afghanistan
New York, 19 September 2023
I welcome and thank you for the opportunity to join you today at this timely high-level event on the rights of Afghan women and girls.
Two years since the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan is facing unprecedented challenges: one of the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian crisis, acute discrimination against Afghan women and girls, a collapse of the human rights situation, and dire economic conditions.
Despite early pledges, the Taliban authorities have yet to take concrete steps to comply with international normative frameworks regarding human rights, representative and inclusive governance, and international collective security.
The governance system imposed by the Taliban leaves little space for the realization of a range of civil and political rights. Dissent is effectively silenced.
Our special political mission, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), has documented arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, media workers and activists, many of them women. It has also reported disproportionate use of force by the de facto security forces against women-led peaceful demonstrations. There have been restrictions on the registration of civil society organizations and recently a ban on political parties. The Mission has also documented extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detentions of officials of the former Republic in violation of the general amnesty.
Economic, social and cultural rights are equally under assault, undermined especially by the violation of the fundamental principles of non-discrimination and gender equality. Women and girls remain banned from pursuing education beyond grade sixth and confined to their households. Employment opportunities are also severely restricted, which not only violates the fundamental rights of Afghan women, but negatively impacts the country’s prospects for development.
Indeed, marginalizing over half the country’s participation from economic, social, and political life is not only wrong, but it also undermines the Taliban’s stated objective of economic self-reliance. Afghanistan cannot develop without the economic, political and intellectual contributions of over half of its population. Any progress on the Sustainable Development Goals will depend on the inclusion of women as beneficiaries and contributors in all sectors.
Consultations conducted by UNAMA and UNWOMEN in the country revealed the cumulative, dire impact of the current situation on the lives and health of Afghan women. Most worryingly, there has been a marked increase in exposure to domestic violence.
In particular, conditions for Afghan women are so severe that, according to some experts, they may be considered as persecution on gender grounds, which may amount to a crime against humanity. Afghanistan is State party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and several international human rights treaties, and the de facto authorities have to comply with their obligations to protect and fulfil the human rights of all Afghans.
The Spotlight Initiative, which is Chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General, continues to support community dialogues and trainings on preventing violence against women and early marriage. It is paramount to build support for these and other such initiatives that address protection needs.
We face a dilemma today. The Taliban leadership have made it increasingly difficult for the international community to engage in Afghanistan, imposing or tightening restrictions that go against the fundamental principles of the United Nations and its Charter. Yet, this is when the Afghan people, especially women and girls, need our support the most.
In all interactions with the de facto authorities, our Mission advocates for women’s and girls’ rights, including the right to work, the right to education and freedom of movement.
Today’s meeting is an important opportunity to hear directly from Afghan women. I say to Afghan women here today and those following the discussions remotely that we really do value your insights about how the UN – and the international community – can best advocate for women’s fundamental rights and promote your political participation. The international community must all act as one in supporting you.
I look forward to the discussion, and to ensuring that our collective actions support you in the best way possible.