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Statement of Heiko Maas at the virtual Ministerial Meeting on the future of Afghan women and girls on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

21.09.2021 - Speech

During the last few weeks, we have seen women and girls protesting on the streets of many Afghan cities. They have sent a clear message to the Taliban: we will not accept cutbacks to our rights and freedoms.

Their courage commands respect. But respect alone is not enough. As an international community, it is our duty to act.

In our contacts with the Taliban, we are urging them to respect the human rights of all Afghans. They must know that any potential future cooperation with Afghanistan – be it economic engagement or development assistance – depends on the human rights situation in Afghanistan.

At the moment, events on the ground are not pointing in the right direction. After one month of Taliban rule, women and girls – half of the population – are at risk of losing their freedom of movement and expression as well as their access to the job market and to education.

Through the European Union, we are advocating an additional, stronger mandate for the United Nations Human Rights Council to observe the human rights situation in Afghanistan – and we have tabled a resolution to that end. We will measure the Taliban by their actions, not by their words.

And we will continue to support and empower Afghan women and girls.

That is why we are significantly stepping up our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, gearing it to women’s specific needs. And we have set up a platform allowing many Afghans facing particularly serious threats to come to Germany. It includes many women’s rights activists. In addition, we have expanded our programmes offering human rights defenders, journalists, scientists and women peacebuilders temporary refuge in Germany.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Over two decades, the international community partnered with Afghan women and girls. Together with them, we changed the situation on the ground for the better. And we, as an international community, must not allow those achievements to be lost. By standing with the brave women and girls of Afghanistan.

Thank you.

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