WACC signs letter highlighting impact of bans on Afghan women’s human rights

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WACC has joined with Religions for Peace and over 150 individuals and international organizations to express concern about the human rights impact of further restrictions on the lives of Afghan women and girls announced by the Taliban in December 2022.

In an open letter to representatives of the UN and the Organization of International Cooperation (OIC), the organizations raise searching questions related to the international response to the de facto authorities of Afghanistan banning women from higher education (20 December) and female staff from working with national and international humanitarian NGOs (24 December).

“We can expect to see threats to both the humanitarian and human rights situations of all of the Afghan population, and we know these actions have implications for the rest of the world,” reads the letter, which the organizations addressed to inter-governmental leaders on January 8 ahead of high-level UN meetings with the de facto authorities of Afghanistan.

WACC General Secretary Philip Lee highlighted the communication rights implications of the ban on women studying at university. “Higher education for all is one of the pillars of democracy. It includes professional training in fields such as journalism, whose practitioners in many countries risk their lives when they tackle issues such as corruption and oppression.”

Mere weeks after the Taliban takeover in August 2021, WACC stressed that denying Afghan women their right to freedom of expression through the media would have dire consequences for democratic society as a whole, and women and girls in particular, and launched a fundraising campaign to support Afghan female journalists.

In September 2021, WACC reported that data from the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) showed that “not only were [Afghan] women journalists responsible for creating space for women and girls to be heard, they also raised the quality of Afghan news content from a gender lens perspective.”

The open letter appeals to the leadership responsibility of the UN and OIC to address the Taliban’s disregard for human rights, including communication rights, that carries devastating consequences for Afghan women and girls, Lee said.

“In Afghanistan under the current regime, women are doubly at risk. WACC supports any efforts to secure a more open and just understanding of women’s role in society and the invaluable contribution they make to society.”

Photo: A journalism training course in Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover. ResoluteSupportMedia / CC BY 2.0