The UAE's ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh on Thursday called it “unacceptable” that girls are still not allowed to attend secondary schools in Afghanistan more than a year after the Taliban took power.
“This is enabling gender apartheid,” Ms Nusseibeh told the UN Security Council at an annual meeting focused on women’s leadership as a path to peace in regions plagued by conflict.
“We find ourselves still battling the misconceptions of women and girls as victims or survivors, but not agents of change.”
Ms Nusseibeh said the exclusion of female Afghans from public and social life is yet another example of how violence against women and girls can take numerous forms.
“Now more than ever, action is the missing piece,” she said. “We need to stop talking about empowering women and just give them power.”
She added that when women participate in the economy, “they are more resilient against violence”.
She emphasised the importance of women gaining access to technology to help them achieve economic parity with men.
“Their voices need to be heard and amplified in school, with their classmates and in all the other facets of public life where they belong,” Ms Nusseibeh said. “Let's give them the digital tools to compete in the same world as men and boys.”
Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, said there is a major lack of funding for women’s organisations in conflict-affected countries, decreasing from $181 million in 2019 to $150m in 2020.
“In Afghanistan in 2022, 77 per cent of women’s civil society organisations have not received any funding and are no longer running programmes,” Ms Bahous said.
She also noted that women’s representation in national parliaments in 2021 is 5 per cent lower in conflict-affected countries than the global average, and 12 per cent lower in local governments.