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Afghan Women Tell UN To Demand Conditions From Taliban Before Awarding Assembly Seat

A demonstrator sheds a tear as she hears testimony from a woman who fled Afghanistan during a rally in support of of Afghan women and women's rights activists in Afghanistan outside the United Nations headquarters. (file photo)

A group of prominent Afghan women has urged the United Nations to pressure the Taliban to uphold its promises on women's rights before deciding who should fill the country's seat at the world body.

The women, who visited UN headquarters in New York on October 21, included former Afghan politician and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi, former politician Naheed Fareed, former diplomat Asila Wardak, and journalist Anisa Shaheed.

"It's very simple," Koofi told reporters. "The UN needs to give that seat to somebody who respects the rights of everyone in Afghanistan."

The world should use aid, money, and recognition to leverage inclusion and respect of women’s rights and the rights of everybody, Koofi said.

The United Nations is considering rival claims on who should represent Afghanistan in the General Assembly.

The Taliban nominated its political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, while Ghulam Isaczai, the UN ambassador who represented the Afghan government ousted by the Taliban, is seeking to remain in the seat.

UN member states are expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Wardak urged countries to pressure the Taliban "to put their words in action" when it comes to women's rights, adding, "If you're going to give them a seat, there should be conditions."

The women spoke to reporters before addressing a UN event on support for Afghan women and girls.

The UN Security Council also met separately on October 21 to discuss women, peace, and security.

"Women and girls in Afghanistan are pinning their hopes and dreams on this very council and world body to help them recover their rights to work, travel and go to school," Isaczai told the Security Council. "It would be morally reprehensible if we do nothing and let them down."

Since seizing power in mid-August, Taliban leaders have vowed to respect women's rights in accordance with Shari'a law.

During the Taliban's earlier rule from 1996 to 2001, its Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice became known as the group's morality police, enforcing its interpretation of Shari'a law that included a strict dress code and public executions and floggings. Women also had to be accompanied by a male relative when they left home.

With reporting by Reuters
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