Advocacy statements

The situation of women and girls under the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan

  • Date / 2022
  • Location / Afghanistan
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Urgent Debate


International Humanist and Ethical Union

50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (13 June 2022 to 08 July 2022)

Urgent debate on the situation of the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan

Mr President,

The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan represents one of the most severe crises of human rights in the world today. What Afghan women are facing is the attempt to completely erase them from public life.

Decrees based on fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic principles deny women and girls their basic rights, including the freedom to travel alone, access services, healthcare, and the public space, and mandated covering.[1]

Contrary to earlier assurances by the Taliban, secondary education for girls is now prohibited,[2] denying them a fundamental means of realizing their other human rights, including freedom of thought and self-identity.

The dissolution of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission[3] has removed a crucial accountability mechanism for women and girls experiencing rights violations, including gender-based violence and forced marriage.

Accounts we have heard from Afghan women indicate that they are being persecuted for multiple and intersecting reasons, including their non-religious beliefs, gender, activism, or work as academics, medical professionals, and writers. From our work we have observed how the process of seeking asylum in many countries remains unduly complex, leaving many in a permanent state of judicial limbo. The women we support who have fled to neighboring states, such as Pakistan and Iran, continue to face persecution for their gender and humanist beliefs.

We urge the Council to continue to prioritize the plight of Afghan women and girls, including by comprehensive reporting and monitoring of the evolving situation. There must be no compromise on girls’ and women’s human rights, including to education and sexual and reproductive healthcare, and no acceptance of “religious” or “cultural particularities” being cited as an excuse for undermining them.

Thank you.


[1] https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/18/afghanistan-taliban-deprive-women-livelihoods-identity

[2] https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/03/failure-adhere-commitments-re-open-schools-all-girls-deeply-disappointing-and

[3] https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/05/comment-michelle-bachelet-un-high-commissioner-human-rights-dissolution

Suggested academic reference

'The situation of women and girls under the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan', Humanists International

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