ICA Gender Equality Committee warns of women’s rights violations in Afghanistan

The committee issued a statement in which it condemns the acts of violence perpetrated against women in Afghanistan

The International Co-operative Alliance’s Gender Equality Committee is calling on the United Nations and the global community to take actions and mobilise resources to protect women from human rights violations in Afghanistan.

Responding to the turmoil, the committee issued a statement condemning the violence against civilians in Afghanistan, particularly against women.

“As women representatives of people-cantered businesses, we express our great concern for the future of women and girls in Afghanistan,” read the statement. “Remaining committed to the internationally agreed values of the co-operative model, including self-help, equality, solidarity and democracy and its operational principles of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, and concern for community, while also sharing the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 vision of a world comprising ‘peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence’, we call the global community to stand by the women of Afghanistan through collective action.”

The committee said it stood in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and pledged to “lead the co-operative movement in playing a key role, as a global actor, empowering women in this forced displacement to gain back their economic emancipation, to improve their livelihoods and gender dynamics at household and community level.”

Concerns of women’s rights in Afghanistan re-emerged after the Talibans swept back to power in August. Under their previous rule between 1996 and 2001, women and girls were denied access to education, employment, freedom of movement and healthcare, among other rights. While Taliban spokespersons have pledged to respect women’s rights, since the group has regained control of the country there have been reports of closures, movement restrictions and job losses affecting women.

The Committee’s calls echo those of the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, who at the opening of an emergency session at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 24 August said that “a fundamental red line will be the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, and respect for their rights to liberty, freedom of movement, education, self-expression and employment, guided by international human rights norms. In particular, ensuring access to quality secondary education for girls will be an essential indicator of commitment to human rights.”