Sign-on letter to the UN & OIC on Women’s Human Rights in Afghanistan
Greetings. This letter is in response to the devastating impact of the recent bans on women’s higher education and women’s work in Afghanistan as assessed by donors included in the local Humanitarian Country Team and Afghanistan’s Women Advisory Group the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). Religions for Peace and The Interfaith Center of New York are hosting this letter with other faith-based and humanitarian NGOs in advance of high-level meetings between UN Officials and the Taliban or “De Facto Authorities.” We also recognize that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other Muslim organizations are uniquely well-equipped to exert their moral authority in regard to this critical issue.
Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations,
Ms. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations,
Ms. Sima Bahous, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women,
Ms. Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Mr. Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator,
Markus Potzel, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political),
Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC),
We, the undersigned members of civil society (including faith-based organizations and actors) note with great concern developments around the world which point to a calamitous regression in human rights for many individuals and groups, at the same time that our planet faces life-threatening challenges.
In particular, we are deeply concerned about the latest developments in Afghanistan where the higher education ban was reaffirmed and announced on 20th December 2022  and on 24th December 2022 the ban of women working in NGOs and INGOs was announced with dire consequences. We can expect to see threats to both the humanitarian and human rights situations of all of the Afghan population, and we know these actions have implications for the rest of the world.
We are writing to ask you, in your capacity as leading inter-governmental organizations, and therefore as bearers of the welfare, rights, duties and obligations to serve our interconnected world, the following questions:
To the United Nations Officials:
- Have you shared your data on the number of women-headed households in Afghanistan, with the government of the Taliban?
- What are your predictions for the financial impact of the ban on women working in Afghanistan and how would this ban affect the households currently headed by women who are sole wage earners, including what would be its impact on the situation of Afghan boys? How many boys and girls are in households that would then have no wage earner?
- What are your projections for the impact on the Afghan nation’s overall financial and economic health when women are no longer able to earn an income from their public service?
- Are you interacting with male community leaders in the country? Are they unanimously backing the Taliban in this decision?
To the Organization of Islamic Cooperation:
- This decision is being presented by the De Facto Authorities in Afghanistan as consonant with Islamic norms and values. Does the Organization of Islamic Cooperation stand by the same understanding of Muslim texts and tradition?
If the OIC does, should we expect that all Muslim majority countries, including some of the most populous such as Indonesia, as well as Saudi Arabia (the Protector of the Two Holy Cities), will issue similar edicts prohibiting their women from serving their communities and nations?
- If the OIC does not stand by this, what is the OIC – with its 56 Member States, all of whom are also members of the United Nations – doing about this situation?
- We ask these questions, of you, our intergovernmental and multilateral institutions, because as citizens of this world, each of us is working to serve the needs of our interconnected life systems, and we can do that work better with answers to these questions.
Thank you for your answers, which will help history document how your esteemed organizations, representing all of our governments, continue to honor basic obligations towards human welfare, in the most troubled times humanity faces.
*As of January 6, 2023 (1:00pm)
|First Name and Last Names||Organization, Congregation, or other Affiliation||Position or Title, if Any||I am signing on behalf of my organization|
|Chloe Breyer||The Interfaith Center of New York||Executive Director|
|Betty Reardon||International Institute on Peace Education||Founder||Yes|
|Azza Karam||Religions for Peace||Secretary General|
|Jamila Afghani||WILPF Afghanistan section||President|
|Najiba Rahmani||AWPFO||Advocacy Coordinator|
|Ruth Messinger||AJWS||Global Ambassador|
|Negina Yari||Afghans 4 Tomorrow||Executives Director|
|Tony Jenkins||Global Campaign for Peace Education||Coordinator||Yes|
|Patricia Kenner||Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaustl to the Holocaust||Trustee||No|
|Abdul Malik Mujahid||Sound Vision Foundation||President||Yes|
|Hardayal Singh||UNITED SIKHS||Director||Yes|
|Daisy Khan||Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality||Founder, Executive Director||Yes|
|Burton Visotzky||Jewish Theological Seminary||Director, Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue||Yes|
|Adem Carroll||Justice for All||UN Programs Director||No|
|Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani||Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization in Malaysia (MERHROM)||President||Yes|
|Sande Hart||S.A.R.A.H. The Spiritual And Religious Alliance for Hope||President||Yes|
|Rahmsni najiba||Wilpf afghanistan||Yes|
|Mahfuza Folad||Justlce For All Organization||Executive director||Yes|
|Wahida Salaam||Danner Afghanistan Women Empowerment Organization-DAWEO||Director||Yes|
|Janet Palafox ibvm||Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto Generalate||NGO Representative to the UN||Yes|
|Toorpekai Momand||WILPF Afghanistan||Vice President||No|
|Amina Ahmady||Afghanistan women’s leaders movement||Founder||Yes|
|Mahfuza Folad||Justice For All Organization||Executive Director||Yes|
|Sima Rasuli||Arman Basharat organizations||Director||Yes|
|Fadi Daou||Globethics||Executive Director||Yes|
|Nedzad Grabus||Office of Mufti of Sarajevo||Mufti of Sarajevo||Yes|
|Philip Lee||World Association for Christian Communication||General Secretary||Yes|
|Parvaneh Ghorbani||International Media Support|
|Marc Antoine Zabbal||The American University of Cyprus||Rector||Yes|
|Muhammad Ijaz Noori||Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Riights||Chairperson||Yes|
|Durstyne Farnan, OP||Dominican Leadership Conference||UN Representative||No|
|Elizabeth Begley||Pax Christi||No|
|Marie Dennis||Pax Christi International||Senior Advisor||No|
|Mary T. Yelenick||Pax Christi International||Main NGO Representative||No|
|Michelle Loisel||Compagny of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul||NGO Representative||Yes|
|Heela Yoon||Afghan Youth Ambassadors for Peace Organization||Founder/CEO||Yes|
|Fazlun Khalid||Islamic Foundationn for Ecology and Environmental Sciences||Founder||Yes|
|Grove Harris||Temple of Understanding||Director of Global Advocacy||Yes|
|Aniqa||Muslim Community Network||Executive Director||Yes|