Human Rights Council to hold urgent debate on women in Afghanistan

Human Rights Council at a session in Room XX, Palais des Nations. (Credit: UN Geneva)

The Human Rights Council will discuss women and girls rights in Afghanistan, as the country reels from two deadly earthquakes in a week.

The Human Rights Council is set to convene an urgent debate on women and girls in Afghanistan on Friday, 1 July, at the request of France and the European Union.

In a letter sent 23 June to the Council’s president Federico Villegas, the EU members said: “The staggering deterioration of the human rights situation of women and girls in Afghanistan since August 2021 requires the urgent attention of the Council.”

Since seizing power a little less than a year ago, the Taliban have introduced sweeping restrictions on women rights, going back on initial promises.

The measures essentially prevent them from most workplaces unless a man cannot do the job instead. Girls have also been barred from school beyond the 6th grade. A ruling from May requires women to cover themselves from head to toe in public, further alienating them from the public sphere.

On June 1, several rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and the International Service for Human Rights published a letter calling for an urgent debate on the matter.

“It would be unacceptable for the June session of the Council, traditionally the session focused on gender-related issues, to pass without dedicated attention and action on the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan,” the letter stated.