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Foreign Affairs | Addressing the oppression of women in Afghanistan

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which the international community is conscious of the oppression of women in Afghanistan; the international community expects to take any steps to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The oppression of women and girls in Afghanistan is completely unacceptable. Over the last year and a half, since the fall of Kabul, women have been ordered by the Taliban to stop using certain public amenities, are severely restricted in terms of their freedom of movement and have been banned from most areas of the workforce.

The December 2022 edicts by the Taliban, prohibiting women’s access to university education and banning them from working for NGOs in Afghanistan, are unconscionable. These decisions are an assault on the fundamental rights of women and girls. The edict in relation to working for NGOs is impacting on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in a country where the already dire humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating. In response to this, a number of international organisations have taken the difficult decision to suspend their activities.

At EU level, during a meeting of Foreign Ministers on 23 January, I strongly condemned this ongoing assault on the rights of women and girls and, given the severity of this matter, we will return to this issue. The United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the broad international community also condemned these bans.

Senior UN officials, including Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, travelled to Afghanistan earlier this month to engage with the Taliban leadership, to set out serious concerns at these bans and the ramifications for the people of Afghanistan if they are not reversed. She then travelled on to Brussels to debrief EU Member States.

Ireland’s position continues to be that those responsible for the repression of women and girls and other human rights abuses must face consequences for their actions. During our term on the United Nations Security Council, Ireland played a key role to ensure that sanctions were imposed on senior members of the Taliban. We also worked to empower the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan with a mandate that would allow it to address human rights issues, women’s participation and humanitarian assistance.

Since January 2021, Ireland has provided over €9 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, through our Irish Aid programme. The EU and its Member States have provided almost €1 billion in humanitarian assistance since the Taliban takeover.

Through these actions at political and practical levels, Ireland has shown it is committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan. We will continue to work with our EU and UN partners to champion the rights of women, girls and minorities in the country, in the face of this appalling situation.

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