The European Women’s Lobby calls for an immediate halt to gender apartheid in Afghanistan

[Brussels, 14 April 2003] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest women’s organisation in Europe, with over 2000 member organisations, is extremely concerned about the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and calls for immediate action from the international community to bear pressure on the Taliban to cease the exclusion of women and girls from participating in all areas of life, which amounts to gender apartheid.

This situation is intolerable, now and for the future’, states Réka Sáfrány, EWL President. ‘We cannot stand by and watch a society that is gradually - slowly but surely- erasing women and girls from social, economic, cultural and political life. This is inacceptable. We stand by our sisters in Afghanistan and call for their immediate integration into all areas of life. We call on the international community to take their responsibility in ensuring that this happens now!’.

Afghanistan ratified CEDAW [1] in 2003, the legally binding major international Women’s Human Rights Convention and has obligations to uphold and comply with this. Therefore, the erasure of women and girls is in flagrant breach of CEDAW for which the Taliban must be held accountable.

Afghanistan has also ratified a number of other UN Human Rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (in 1994).

The Third Periodical report submitted to the CEDAW Committee in 2018 [2] by the then Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, indicated that "[..] Afghanistan is considered among the leading countries in acceding the International Human Rights treaties and has ratified 7 out of 9 significant human rights conventions [..]." Therefore, it is deplorable that international legal obligations are being severely violated.

The EWL calls on the international community, including businesses, and the European Union to bear pressure on the Taliban to reinstate women and girls rights and to make this an absolute condition of all trade, investments, and bilateral, multilateral partnership agreements.

The EWL stands in solidarity and ready to develop and strengthen partnerships with Afghan women’s organisations in the country and in exile.

We refuse to imagine a society in which women and girls are becoming invisible and obliterated; we will not remain silent in the face of gender apartheid.

[1] CEDAW : Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women

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