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U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security Members Condemn Taliban Decree

Updated: May 13, 2022

Contact: Corey Greer,, 352-278-0599

Wali Sabawoon/AP

On Saturday, the Taliban’s Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice ordered a decree that all women leaving their homes must wear a head-to-toe covering and only leave the house with a valid excuse. This is the latest measure in the service of the systemic oppression of Afghan women under Taliban rule. In response, members of the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, released the following statements:

“Keep being the voice where we cannot be. Some of us remember how hard it is to walk in burqa, others have never had to wear one until now.”

An Afghan colleague who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of her safety.

“Afghan women and men have been resisting the restrictive dress codes implemented by the Taliban that requires men to have long beards and wear a hat and requires women to cover all of their body except eyes when in public.

“These acts of resistance should be acknowledged as signs of immense bravery as well as an indication that those that live inside Afghanistan wish to take the lead in negotiating for their rights and freedoms with the Taliban.

“This is the time for the international community to show solidarity to the Afghan people by amplifying their voices, centering them in advocacy efforts and sharing resources with them in their struggle for a healthy, safe and just society, and to protect their freedoms.”

Zuhra Bahman, Kabul

Country Director, Search for Common Ground

“At a time when Afghanistan suffers from massive unemployment and widespread poverty, increased isolation, and terrorist attacks targeting schools and houses of worship of ethnic and religious minorities, the decision of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to further oppress over half of the Afghan population by denying women freedom of movement, barring girls access to education, and forcing women to cover themselves in a dehumanizing manner in public, among other inhumane restrictions.

“The Taliban came to power with the promise to not repeat its brutal history of governance and to create a just society for all Afghans. These misogynistic policies are contrary to their promises, have isolated Afghanistan further from the world community, and ultimately have created a country that is an unbearable place to live for all its inhabitants.”

Women for Afghan Women

“The severe subordination of Afghan women will harm that country’s prospects for stability and prosperity. No nation is exempt from the iron law of civilization: What you do to your women, you do to your nation-state. If you curse your women, you curse your nation-state.”

Dr. Valerie Hudson

The WomanStats Project

“The new Taliban decree is unconscionable, irresponsible and denies women and girls their fundamental human rights, part of the Taliban's systematic oppression of Afghan women and girls that has sparked widespread international condemnation. This decree follows the closure of schools in March for girls in 7th grade and above, betraying the Taliban/s previous promise. These moves hurt not just women but all of Afghan society as well as the dignity of women everywhere.”

Kimberly Weichel

Senior Advisor, International Youth Peace Forum

“In the face of institutional discrimination, Afghan women persist and organize in ways I can only begin to fathom—their bravery and leadership are unparalleled. Though we are facing our own battle for women’s rights in the United States, Americans must continue to stand in solidarity with Afghan women, heed their calls for aid, and advocate for U.S. policies that support them in securing their rights. Now is not the time to back down.”

Corey Greer

Women’s Action for New Directions

“Syrian women stand in solidarity with Afghan women and support them living with dignity and having their full rights in society. Women’s rights should not be used as bargaining chips.”

Rajaa Altalli

Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria

“The Taliban's latest restrictions not only reinforces their attempts to control and oppress Afghan women and girls but also brings the battlefield into the home, pitting family members against each other. The decrees may position the Taliban to negotiate women's rights in exchange for additional gains from the international community. Muslim scholars, along with governments and civil society, must denounce these decrees and safeguard the human rights of Afghan women and girls.”

International Civil Society Action Network

“The Alliance for Peacebuilding strongly condemns the Taliban's decree to rollback the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls by requiring full coverage. This is the latest, and most predictable, example of Taliban-imposed systemic oppression, serves as further backsliding of women's and girls' human rights, and represents yet another silencing of women's voices. Will the international community sit idly by until women and girls are deprived of every fundamental human right and freedom?”

Megan Corrado

Alliance for Peacebuilding

“This latest move by the Taliban to erase women from visibility within Afghanistan signals their intention to have complete control over the population. We have seen how a girl with a book or a woman with a job threatens the Taliban's extremist views, that only certain men should have power. Yet again, they are using women's bodies to define the boundaries of their fundamentalist values and beliefs, condoning the use of violence and fear to subordinate and restrict the rights of half the population. The international community needs to be firm in standing up to the Taliban and denouncing their latest attempt to eradicate women from public life. Staying silent will give the signal to other fundamentalist regimes that they can roll back women's rights with impunity. When we protect women's rights we protect the rights of other vulnerable groups such as children and LGBT+ populations. Women's insecurity anywhere threatens women's security everywhere.”

Dr. Shirley Graham

Director, Gender Equality Initiative in International Affairs (GEIA), George Washington University

“The Taliban’s recent decree and subsequent restrictions and punishments are part of a larger effort to roll back decades of advancements for women in the country. When they seized power in August 2021, the Taliban claimed they would respect women and girls’ rights to a public life, but since then, they’ve taken away their right to travel unaccompanied, work outside of the healthcare space, and have an education. Afghan women and girls deserve agency and equality and the Taliban government must protect and preserve their rights. The Wilson Center stands on the side of Afghan women and girls.

Sarah Barnes

Wilson Center