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Lost in Consultation: The International Community's Failure to Engage Afghan Women

A comprehensive report highlighting the exclusion of Afghan women from critical UN meetings with the Taliban.

Afghanistan is the most serious women’s rights crisis in the world, with Afghanistan ranking 177 out of 177 countries on the Women’s Peace and Security Index. Since taking power, the de facto authorities have subjected Afghan women to exceedingly restrictive policies, which prevent them from accessing the full spectrum of their rights – including banning women from secondary and higher education, working for NGOs, political and social participation, access to public spaces such as parks and in some places a ban on them leaving the house without a mahram (close male relative).

The 'Lost in Consultation' report reveals the international community’s lack of willingness to engage Afghan women in discussions about their future. Compiled from responses of 213 women-led organizations across Afghanistan, this report sheds light on the urgent need for accountability and transparency.

Key Findings

  • 86% of respondents wanted to be consulted before the February 2024 Doha meeting.
  • The majority said meetings without Afghan women's participation are not useful.
  • “Women’s rights should be prioritized alongside security concerns.” - Afghan woman respondent
  • Exclusion from UN Meetings: Despite their crucial role, Afghan women were excluded from the upcoming UN meeting in Doha. This exclusion undermines their rights and impacts the country's future.
  • Impact of Taliban Rule: Since 2021, the Taliban has systematically restricted Afghan women's rights, barring them from education, work, and public spaces.

“The findings demonstrate a significant deficit in the international community’s commitment to Afghan women’s rights.”

- Payvand Seyedali, WfWI Afghanistan

About the Report

This report was made possible by the efforts of several organizations, including:

  • International Rescue Committee
  • Norwegian Afghanistan Committee
  • Samuel Hall
  • The Khadijah Project
  • Women for Women International (WfWI)
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Lost In Consultation

Get a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and perspectives of Afghan women by downloading the full report.

Read Our Joint Press Release:

Excluded from UN meeting with Taliban, Afghan women demand to be heard.    

Representatives from over 200 women-led organizations in Afghanistan have raised concerns regarding their wholesale exclusion from UN meetings critical to their future. A new eye-opening report lays bare the international community's lack of willingness to press the Taliban on women’s rights or make meaningful attempts to engage with Afghan women, highlighting the need for greater accountability and transparency.

Lost in Consultation: International community failing at meaningful engagement with Afghan women, features responses from 213 women-led organizations inside Afghanistan, with 12,000 female staff or members and a female beneficiary reach of 1.5 million, to a survey conducted in all 34 provinces across the country.

The findings come ahead of a two-day UN-convened Special Envoys meeting in Doha, Qatar, on June 30. It will be the third such meeting in Doha, but the first attended by the Taliban. It is concerning to note that, in a concession to Taliban demands, no Afghan women will take part in the meeting. While economic reintegration and counter-narcotics are on the agenda, women’s rights appear to have fallen by the wayside.

In the report:

  • 86 percent of respondents said they would have liked to have been consulted on the priorities for women in Afghanistan before the previous Doha meeting held in February 2024. 
  • Asked if meetings such as the one in Doha would be useful if women in Afghanistan were not consulted or invited to participate, the majority of respondents said ‘no’.

The report also highlights the perspectives of Afghan women on decisions regarding the future of their country.

“Women's rights should be counted as equal to security concerns/terrorist activities. When there is any security concern about Afghanistan's soil being used as a potential threat to the interests of developed countries, all possible resources are mobilised to mitigate risks. Even the authorities are pressured to be accountable. Why are human rights, and particularly women’s rights, not treated the same?” Afghan woman respondent, Lost in Consultation

Since taking power in 2021, the Taliban have increasingly restricted the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls. They have barred them from secondary and higher education, limited their access to livelihood opportunities such as working for aid agencies, prohibited their access to public spaces such as parks and bathhouses and required them to travel with a male guardian. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, has decried these restrictions as a “pattern of systematic violations of women’s and girls’ fundamental rights.”

Payvand Seyedali, Women for Women International’s Country Director in Afghanistan, said the findings demonstrate “Not only a significant deficit in the international community’s commitment to upholding the fundamental rights of Afghan women but the absence of their input will have a far-reaching impact on Afghanistan’s future and the wellbeing of the wider region.

Download the full report here

Media Inquiries to: Nidhi Dagur, Director of Global Communications and External Relations ndagur@womenforwomen.org