Statement on Taliban and women's rights

‘It is completely unacceptable that the Taliban is placing restrictions on women’s rights. I am deeply concerned by the announcement stating that women in Afghanistan must cover their faces in public, are not allowed to drive and can only leave their homes when this is necessary,’ said State Secretary Henrik Thune.

The Taliban are the de facto authorities, but the regime is isolated and non-representative. The Taliban’s policies continue to focus on oppressing women and girls rather than addressing the country’s economic crisis and the need for an inclusive government.

‘The Taliban’s new restrictions on girls’ education and women’s rights are steering the country towards a humanitarian, economic and human rights catastrophe,’ said Mr Thune.

Afghanistan is on the brink of economic collapse. Many millions of people do not have enough to eat and are in need of assistance. Norwegian support for the civilian population in Afghanistan is being channelled through the UN, the World Bank and NGOs. No support provided by Norway will go to the Taliban regime.

‘The new restrictions will take Afghanistan yet another step in the wrong direction. They are difficult for the international community to understand, and are not in the interests of the Afghan people. Afghanistan needs an inclusive government that will promote the rights and freedom of women and men, minorities and vulnerable groups to take part in the political and economic development of the country. We have communicated this message clearly to representatives of the Taliban,’ said Mr Thune.

Norway has had a dialogue with the Taliban over many years. In January, Norway facilitated a meeting in Oslo between Afghan human rights defenders, representatives of the international community and a Taliban delegation. The main focus of the Oslo meeting was the humanitarian crisis threatening the civilian population in the winter months.

‘Even though the Taliban’s values differ widely from our own, it is vital that the international community pursues a dialogue with the de facto authorities in order to help the Afghan people. We are not being naive and are very clear about our demands and expectations, but if there is no dialogue we have no opportunity to influence those in power,’ said Mr Thune.

‘Afghan civil society and Afghan women need our support. They have expressed a wish for the international community to speak out on their behalf, as they have no other viable option. They are concerned about being left to stand up to the Taliban on their own,’ Mr Thune said. 

‘Once again I urge the Taliban to keep their promises to Afghan women and girls, and to comply with Afghanistan’s human rights obligations. Girls must have full access to education. Afghanistan’s women and girls expect and are entitled to participate fully in society, and must not be excluded,’ said Mr Thune.