UN chief slams Taliban for ‘breaking’ promises made to women

Published October 12, 2021
A file photo of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. — Reuters/File
A file photo of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. — Reuters/File

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday slammed the Taliban for “breaking” promises to Afghan women and girls, and urged the world to donate more money to Afghanistan to head off its economic collapse.

The comments came on the heels of the first face-to-face talks between the United States and the Taliban since the Islamists took control of the country, at which the issue of women’s rights was raised, according to the State Department.

“I am particularly alarmed to see promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban being broken,” Guterres told reporters.

“I strongly appeal to the Taliban to keep their promises to women and girls and fulfill their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.” Guterres said the United Nations “will not give up” on the issue and said the body discusses it daily with the Taliban, who have been in power since mid-August but whose legitimacy as a government is still not internationally recognised.

“Broken promises lead to broken dreams for the women and girls of Afghanistan,” Guterres said, noting that three million girls have enrolled in school since 2001, and the average amount of education for girls has increased from six years to 10. “Eighty percent of Afghanistan’s economy is informal, with a preponderant role of women. Without them, there is no way the Afghan economy and society will recover,” the UN chief warned.

Guterres also spoke at length about the challenges faced by Afghanistan’s economy. The country’s assets held abroad have been frozen, and development aid has been suspended.

“We need to find ways to make the economy breathe again. This can be done without violating international laws or compromising principles,” he said.

“I urge the world to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse.”

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2021

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