UN pushes for inclusive future in Afghanistan at Doha talks

UN pushes for inclusive future in Afghanistan at Doha talks

Speaking in the Qatari capital, Doha, after the Third Meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan, UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo expressed deep concern over the situation of women and girls in the country.

“Running through all the discussions was the deep international concern – from special envoys and from me – about the ongoing and serious restrictions on women and girls,” she stated.

Afghanistan cannot return to the international fold, or fully develop economically and socially, if it is deprived of the contributions and potential of half its population,” asserted Ms. DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

The consultations follow talks in May 2023 and February 2024. They build upon the proposals outlined in an independent review on an integrated and coherent approach conducted by Feridun Sinirlioğlu, in line with Security Council resolution 2679.

Focused discussions with Afghan women and civil society are scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

Civil society’s ‘rightful role’

Ms. DiCarlo further stressed that the concerns and views of Afghan women and civil society remain “front and center”.  

For the United Nations, the meaningful inclusion of women in political and peace processes is a guiding principle,” she said.

“And while women and civil society were not sitting across the table from the de facto authorities the last two days, they made their voices heard. Civil society has a rightful role to play in shaping Afghanistan’s future,” she asserted.

‘Heartbreaking’ ban

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, women and girls have faced systemic discrimination, including a ban on girls’ education.

That ban is “heartbreaking”, Ms. DiCarlo maintained.

“If you prevent half the population from education, from being involved in the economy and various professions, it just means that it delays the develop of Afghanistan,” Ms. DiCarlo replied to one woman reporter.  

Just imagine if you were only allowed to go through sixth grade, you would not be sitting here being a journalist, I would not be here being a UN official. [It is] heartbreaking frankly but let us see and let us keep at it, that is all I can say. We have to make clear how important is and how it is going to be better for Afghanistan.”

A tough choice

She explained that in organizing the meeting, the UN “faced a very tough, maybe impossible, choice”, aiming to bring the Taliban and the special envoys together for direct talks.

“Regrettably, the de facto authorities will not sit across the table with Afghan civil society in this format. But they heard very clearly the need to include women and civil society in all aspects of public life,” she said.

Engagement is not recognition

She further emphasized that the meeting and process of engagement “does not mean normalization or recognition” of the Taliban de facto authorities.

Ms. DiCarlo expressed hope that the exchanges on the various issues during the meeting “moved us a little closer” to resolving some of the problems devastating the Afghan people.

“To conclude, I would like to reiterate the United Nations commitment to continue to support this process of principled engagement for the benefit of all Afghans,” she said.

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