The United States, the European Union and 19 other Western nations called on Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders Wednesday to guarantee the rights of women and girls, saying in a joint statement they are “deeply worried” about their rights to education, employment and “freedom of movement.”
The statement was issued by the U.S. State Department one day after the Taliban vowed to respect women’s rights under Islamic law, in an apparent attempt to allay concerns they would impose draconian restrictions on women as they did when they ruled the country before the war.
“Afghan women and girls, as all Afghan people, deserve to live in safety, security and dignity,” the statement said. “Any form of discrimination and abuse should be prevented. We in the international community stand ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard.”
The countries also said they would “monitor closely how any future government ensures rights and freedoms that have become an integral part of the life of women and girls in Afghanistan during the last twenty years.”
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters Tuesday the new Taliban government would be “positively different” from the one that governed 1996-2001, when girls were banned from school and women were prohibited from working in contact with men.
Without specifics, Mujahid said Taliban leaders were “committed to letting women work in accordance with the principles of Islam.”
After ruling the country for five years, the Taliban were ousted by the U.S-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
(Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters.)