Written by Awash Mehrban
On March 8th, International Women’s Day, a coalition of protesting movements comprised of Afghan women, wrote a petition outlining their eight major demands and addressed it to the international community. The petition received support from 800 signatures.
The headline of the letter includes “Nan, Kar, Azadi” (Bread, Work, Freedom), as a common slogan among all the protesting women’s groups.
Afghan women are currently being subjected to a gender apartheid system, which has systematically deprived them of their fundamental rights, the petition claims.
Afghan female protesters have clearly stated that they have little hope for the Taliban terrorist group to respect and safeguard women’s rights and freedoms. Instead, the petition reads, the international community, the United Nations, and NATO member countries must not abandon Afghan women in their struggle against extremism and must honor their responsibility towards the Afghan people.
The coalition has submitted a set of eight major requests to the international community, on the occasion of March 8th.
Withholding Recognition of the Taliban
According to women protestors in Afghanistan, the Taliban should not be acknowledged as the legitimate government in the country.
“As Afghan women, we do not acknowledge the Taliban as the legitimate government, and we urge you not to recognize them as such,” the petition reads.
Avoid Categorizing the Taliban into Good Taliban-Bad Taliban
These female protesters referred to the Taliban as a terrorist group, stating the world should not be hopeful for the Taliban to change.
“Don’t emphasize the ‘good Taliban-bad Talihan’ narrative anymore,” their petition reads. “From our point of view, the Taliban is a terrorist group, with no intention and capacity to govern. The hope that the Taliban will change is an illusion. Every day, the Taliban rule pushes Afghanistan backward and destroys the achievements made by the Afghan people.”
Stand with Afghan Women
The coalition of women’s protest movements has highlighted the crucial role of the international community in providing humanitarian support in Afghanistan’s affairs, urging the world to stand in solidarity with women.
“We ask you to stand in solidarity with us, the Afghan women and support our civil struggles. Afghan women have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to a free and equal Afghanistan by sacrificing their lives and security. Despite the Taliban’s attempts at oppression, women have persistently fought for their right to education, work, and freedom for the past two years, maintaining their stronghold of civil resistance. The participation of women is crucial for the prosperity and development of Afghanistan.”
The Taliban’s Elimination Policy Poses a Threat to Global and Regional Security
Amidst ongoing oppression and repression by the Taliban, women protesters have expressed concern over the implementation of the group’s “policy of elimination,” warning that it not only endangers social groups within Afghanistan but also poses a threat to regional and global security.
“We ask you not to overlook the Taliban’s elimination policy. Religious minorities and marginalized ethnic groups face systematic suppression and elimination under Taliban rule. This country is consisting of multiple ethnic groups and religious orientations, with an urgent need for equal rights for all Afghan citizens. The Taliban’s elimination policy leads Afghanistan towards internal conflicts and instability. Urgent action is needed to stop the Taliban and prevent the regional and global consequences of Afghanistan’s instability.”
Impose a Travel Ban on the Taliban Members
Protesting women have petitioned the international community to impose a travel ban on Taliban members, as Afghan women lack the freedom to hang out and travel within the country.
“We ask you to impose a travel ban on the Taliban members”, the petition reads. “With Afghan women facing imprisonment and restricted freedom of movement, the group, too, should not be permitted unrestricted travel outside the country.”
Put an End to the Diplomatic Engagement with the Taliban
Afghanistan’s women protesters have criticized the international community’s diplomatic engagement with the Taliban terrorist group and called for an end to such interactions.
“We ask you not to send your high-ranking delegation to Afghanistan to meet with the Taliban. From our point of view, your meetings with the Taliban in the last two years have been fruitless. Women are excluded from society. The people of Afghanistan are struggling with widespread poverty and the repression of the people by the Taliban has reached its peak. Your interaction with the Taliban has only given them legitimacy.”
Shut down the Taliban office in Doha
Afghan women protesters are calling for the closure of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar. This office, established in 2013, serves as the primary political hub for the group outside of Afghanistan. Notably, the 2020 agreement between the US and the Taliban, which provided the political ground for the Taliban to regain power, was made possible in part through this office’s activities.
“Close the Taliban office in Doha and reassess their adherence to the provisions of the Doha Agreement,” they demanded.
Demonstrate your Commitment in Practice
The coalition of Afghan women’s protest movements has urged the international community to demonstrate their commitment in a tangible manner to help Afghan women.
“We want you to demonstrate your dedication to upholding the human rights of the Afghan people through practical measures,” The coalition petition reads. “Our evaluation of you and your values will be based on concrete actions you take to support Afghan women.”
The women protesters emphasized that they were spending two successive “International Women’s Day” under the Taliban’s rule. They named the post-republic Afghanistan narrative as the “united struggle of Afghan women against the Taliban’s forces of ignorance and darkness,” warning that if their demands were not met, “History will not forget that you left Afghan women alone in their fight against terrorism and in defense of human rights values.”