After the restriction imposed by the de facto authorities on April 5, which prevents Afghan women from working for the United Nations, the special representative of the Secretary General for that country, Roza Otunbayeva, indicated this Wednesday in the Security Council that the Taliban government It continues without giving explanations about that ban nor does it offer guarantees that it will be lifted.
“We are not going to endanger our female national staff, and therefore we ask that they do not report to the office. At the same time, we ask all male national staff performing non-essential tasks to stay at home in order to respect the principle of non-discrimination. Finally, we stand firm: female national staff will not be replaced by male national staff, as some de facto authorities have suggested”, he explained.
The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (ONE MA) reminded the de facto authorities of Afghanistan’s commitment under the United Nations Charter, as one of the first members of the Organization in 1946.
“These include the obligation to respect the privileges and immunities of the United Nations and its officials, including the Afghan women who work for us”, he pointed out.
For this reason, he verified the contradiction in which the Taliban lives, which asks to be recognized by the United Nations and its members, but at the same time acts against the key values embodied in the Charter of the Organization.
Otunbayeva called for the repeal of the bans imposed on Afghan women working for the UN and all previous restrictions affecting women and girls, such as those on female staff working for NGOs or diplomatic entities, or the impediment to attend non-religious secondary and tertiary education centers.
“Based on our discussions with many interlocutors across the country, it is also clear that these decrees are highly unpopular with the Afghan population. They cost the Taliban national and international legitimacy, while inflicting suffering on half their population and damaging their economy.”.
Disparity between the macroeconomic reality and that of households
In the opinion of the special representative of the General secretarythe long series of restrictions imposed hides some positive achievements of the de facto authorities, such as the prohibition of opium cultivation, which has been considerably reduced.
“At the same time, the opium economy has helped sustain parts of the rural economy in Afghanistan. Donors should consider allocating funds to alternative livelihood programs that address the specific needs of farmers affected by the ban.” He suggested.
Despite the apparent stability of the Afghan economy – with a drop in inflation, achieving stability in the exchange rate and with sufficient collections to finance government operations – he highlighted the difficulties of ordinary citizens.
“However, this macroeconomic stability coexists with severe family poverty. According to him world Bank, 58% of households have difficulties meeting their basic needs. United Nations humanitarian efforts continue to meet the needs of the nearly 20 million people in need of some form of assistance. Afghanistan, I must remind you, remains the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.”
Mixed progress on climate change and the fight against terrorism
In the section dedicated to the fight against terrorism, he described an uneven picture, since government efforts to counteract the Afghan branch of ISIS were marred by the attacks carried out by the terrorist group, both against the de facto authorities and against the civilian population.
Lastly, he expressed his concern about Afghanistan’s vulnerability to climate change, given that multiple years of drought aggravated the effects of the conflict and poverty, a phenomenon that is causing internal population displacements “that could be destabilizing.”
Secret schools return to Afghanistan
Next, in an emotional speech, the co-founder and president of the Afghanistan Leadership School, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, founded in 2008 and now operating in Rwanda after the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, recalled her bleak childhood memories. in Kabul under the regime of the Islamist organization.
“I never thought that the Taliban would be in a position to bring back to me the darkness that I lived in as a child in the 1990s, a girl who attended secret schools run by women in Kabul, a girl who lived in fear because she was an Afghan girl, a of so many, who wanted an education. Nothing more than that. We just wanted to go to school. And so our families and our teachers risked everything-everything-so we could learn”, he explained.
Basij-Rasikh confirmed the reopening of the secret schools in Kabul and other provinces, noting the wide acceptance his school is having as it has received nearly 2,000 applications from students from Afghan communities all over the world.
“Two thousand Afghan girls. Two thousand Afghan families. Two thousand fires in the dark, and each one of them represents the inextinguishable and unconquerable desire to access the basic human right of education. It is our task, the task of the world, to ensure that these flames never go out.” stressed.
After emphasizing that the secret to achieving a stable and peaceful Afghanistan “is the education of girls”, he sent a couple of recommendations to the international community.
Guarantee the accessibility of the internet in the country and that Afghan refugees, especially refugee women, have access to quality education in their countries of residence.
“Borders alone cannot contain the threat of extremism. Nor do they limit the benefits that educated girls bring. The decisions that are made here decide the spiral trajectory in which my country turns: downwards, towards the darkness, or upwards, rising, towards the hope of tomorrow.