UN Demands Taliban to Reverse Bans on Women After US Call

Members of the UN Security Council urged the Taliban on Friday to immediately reverse all oppressive measures against women and girls, reiterating its previous calls for full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian actors regardless of their gender.

Noting that the body will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and respond accordingly, the joint statement from 11 of the 15 council members stressed that given their ability to offer women and girls critical life-saving support in places where men are not allowed, the role of female aid workers is vital in Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian situation.

The private meeting of the 15-member council to discuss the decisions by Afghanistan’s Islamist Taliban-led administration was convened at the request of the United Arab Emirates and Japan.

The United States on Friday pushed the UNSC to adopt a resolution calling on Afghanistan’s Taliban-led authorities to reverse bans on women working for aid groups or attending universities and high school.

Given the gravity of the situation, the UNSC was urged during the meeting by US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield to unanimously adopt a resolution to condemn the bans and call for an immediate reversal.

In order to be adopted, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, Britain, France, or the US so it was not immediately clear whether all members would back such a formal move by the UNSC.

Underscoring that they should focus on how the body can practically help the situation on the ground, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh noted that the UNSC clearly has a few tools in its toolkit.

After preventing girls from attending high school in March and imposing a ban earlier last month on women attending universities, the Taliban-led administration imposed the ban on female aid workers on Dec. 24.

The announcement faced a backlash among the aid organizations as well as political leaders, with UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell describing the ban as both wrong and dangerous, and adding that UNICEF was reviewing its impact and that, as the situation evolves, it’ll have to decide which activities it can continue, and which must be suspended.

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