The European Union, the United States, and 18 other countries have joined together to urge the Taliban to respect the rights and safety of Afghan women and girls.
"We are deeply worried about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement,” they said in a joint statement issued on August 18, three days after the Taliban entered Kabul following a blistering offensive that swept up cities and toppled the Western-backed government.
“We call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection," said the statement, whose other signatories include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, New Zealand, Senegal, and Switzerland.
The plea comes as foreign powers look to see whether the Islamist insurgents they had fought for nearly 20 years will live up to their promises of having left the group's brutal human rights record behind.
Under the hard-line version of Shari'a law that the Taliban imposed when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, women and girls were mostly denied education and employment.
Full-face coverings became mandatory in public, and women could not leave home without a male companion.
All Afghan people "deserve to live in safety, security and dignity,” the joint statement said, adding that "any form of discrimination and abuse should be prevented."
The EU and 19 countries said they stood "ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard," and that they will "monitor closely how any future government ensures rights and freedoms that have become an integral part of the life of women and girls in Afghanistan during the last twenty years."