Statement by Foreign Ministers on Taliban’s Decision to Ban Women from Universities (21 December 2022)

The Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States and the High Representative of the European Union strongly condemn the Taliban’s recent decisions to ban women from universities, to continue to exclude girls from secondary schools and to impose other severe restrictions on the ability of women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Taliban’s repressive measures against Afghan girls and women have been relentless and systemic. Over the past 16 months, the Taliban has issued no less than 16 decrees and orders that, among other things, restrict women’s mobility, remove women from workplaces, require head-to-toe clothing for women, prohibit women from using public spaces parks and gyms , leaving widows and female households in dire circumstances due to the requirement of male guardianship. These policies highlight the Taliban’s disregard for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Afghanistan.

The ingenuity and dynamism of Afghan women is urgently needed to help address profound and staggering economic and humanitarian needs. A stable, economically viable and peaceful Afghanistan is only achievable and sustainable if all Afghans, including women and girls, can fully, equally and meaningfully participate in and contribute to the country’s future and development.

We stand with all Afghans in their demand to exercise their human rights in accordance with Afghanistan’s obligations under international law. With these measures, the Taliban further isolates itself from the Afghan population and the international community. We urge the Taliban to immediately abandon the new repressive measures regarding university education for women and girls and to reverse without delay the existing decision to ban girls from high school.

Taliban policies designed to erase women from public life will have consequences for how our countries engage with the Taliban. Our greatest concern will continue to be the welfare, rights and freedoms of the people of Afghanistan.

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