Afghanistan's women protest as U.N. hosts meeting in Doha on "how to engage with the Taliban"

Afghanistan's women protest as U.N. hosts meeting in Doha on "how to engage with the Taliban"


The United Nations kicked off a two-day, closed-door meeting in Qatar on Monday, aimed at helping the international community figure out how to save lives in Afghanistan without bolstering the Islamic hard-liners of the Taliban movement currently in control of the country.

In a statement on Sunday, the U.N. said the meetings’ objective was to “achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban” on issues including “human rights, in particular women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking.”

But even before the meeting in Doha, Qatar got underway, it was the subject of a fierce backlash by Afghan women who see themselves as unrepresented in the talks, and who fear the meetings could lead to something the Taliban has failed to attain since it retook control of Afghanistan when the U.S.-led military coalition pulled out in August 2021: Recognition. 

The Taliban has stripped away virtually every basic right that Afghan women had embraced during two decades of Western-backed governance, barring them from most jobs and girls over the age of 12 from school. Their draconian crackdown on basic rights has led to a freezing of millions of dollars in financial assets held in other countries, and not a single other country has recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The Taliban itself fumed on Monday about being excluded from the talks in Doha, with the head of the regime’s office in Qatar telling CBS News that any meetings without its participation would be “unproductive, and even sometimes counterproductive.”

“How will they implement decisions while we are not part of it? Issues can be solved through pragmatic approach, not one-sided decisions,” said Suhail Shaheen.

But Afghan women who feel their very existence has been erased by the Taliban voiced very different concerns.

Defiant protests in Kabul

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was set to convene the meeting on Monday after a weekend of protests against the gathering by the very people its intended to help. 

A group of Afghan women, braving the threat of a harsh response from Taliban security forces, took to the streets of Kabul over the weekend to demand their fundamental rights of work and education and to strongly criticize the U.N. for holding discussions they believe could lead to new levels of recognition for the Taliban. 


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