UN calls for defending women's rights

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made an appeal Thursday for reversing a decline in women's rights in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.


"We need to fight back –- and turn the clock forward –- for every woman and girl," Guterres told the Security Council.

"Women will no longer accept reversals of their rights. They shouldn't have to -– in countries in conflict, or anywhere else," he added.

In Myanmar, Ethiopia, Yemen and other parts of the world the rights of women are being violated or eliminated altogether, Guterres said.

"In Mali, after two coups in nine months, the space for women's rights is not just shrinking, but closing," he said.

"In Afghanistan, girls and women are seeing a rapid reversal of the rights they achieved in recent decades, including their right to a seat in the classroom," Guterres said.

Since the hardline Islamist Taliban movement seized power in late August, it has excluded girls from returning to secondary school while ordering boys back to class.

"We will not stop until girls can go back to school, and women can return to their jobs and participate in public life."

Fawzia Koofi, a former Afghan negotiator and member of the Afghan parliament, voiced regret that the Taliban's government didn't include women.

"It's not just a political and social issue but its a matter of security," said Koofi, who was in New York heading a delegation of four Afghan women, during a meeting with journalists at the United Nations.

"If there is a reliable government in Afghanistan that will accommodate diversity and inclusion of everyone, including women" it "can be a trusted partner to the world -- but the reality is that this is not" the case, she said.