The interim rulers of Afghanistan are steadfast in their commitment to providing the country’s women with a comfortable and prosperous life while safeguarding them from traditional oppressions, according to the Taliban supreme leader.
In a statement released on Sunday to mark the beginning of the Eid ul Adha holidays, Hibatullah Akhundzada emphasized that women’s status as free and dignified human beings has been restored. Akhundzada, who primarily governs from the Taliban’s birthplace in Kandahar and rarely makes public appearances, stated that the country’s interim government, led by the Taliban, is taking concrete measures to ensure women’s well-being in accordance with Islamic Sharia.
The United Nations has expressed deep concern regarding the deprivation of women’s rights under Afghanistan’s Taliban government and has warned about the emergence of systematic gender apartheid.
Since regaining power in August 2021, the Taliban authorities have imposed various restrictions on girls and women. They have prohibited their attendance at high schools and universities, banned them from public spaces such as parks, gyms, and public baths, and mandated them to cover up when venturing outside their homes. Additionally, they have barred women from working for international organizations like the UN or NGOs, resulting in the dismissal of many female government employees or their being paid to remain at home.
Nevertheless, Akhundzada asserted that necessary steps have been taken to improve women’s status as an integral part of society. His statement read, “All institutions have been mandated to assist women in securing their rights, including marriage, inheritance, and other entitlements.”
He further highlighted a six-point decree issued in December 2021 that guarantees women their rights. The decree outlaws forced marriages and affirms the right to inheritance and divorce. Akhundzada expressed optimism that the negative aspects of the past 20 years, including the restrictions on women’s attire and misguided practices, will soon be eliminated.
A recent report presented to the UN’s Human Rights Council by Richard Bennett, the special rapporteur for Afghanistan, shed light on the dire situation faced by women and girls in the country, describing it as one of the worst in the world. Bennett stated, “Grave, systematic, and institutionalized discrimination against women and girls lies at the core of Taliban ideology and rule, leading to concerns of gender apartheid.”
Nada Al-Nashif, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, added, “Over the past 22 months, every aspect of women’s and girls’ lives has been severely restricted, with discrimination permeating every facet.”
Despite his infrequent public appearances, Akhundzada consistently releases extensive “state-of-the-nation” style statements before significant Muslim festivals and holidays. He proclaimed, “At the national level, Afghanistan’s independence has been restored once again.” Akhundzada commended the country’s economic resilience, the efforts to eradicate poppy cultivation, and the advancements made in national security.
He emphasized, “It is our collective responsibility to protect and uphold our Islamic system. The current system is the result of the sacrifices made by thousands of mujahideen. Let us stand united, thwart conspiracies, prioritize security and prosperity, and work together to further enhance our nation.”