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Women’s Rights Must Not Be a Bargaining Chip Between the Taliban and the International Community

As Afghan women and girls are constantly being targetted by the Taliban, members of the Umbrella of Afghan Women Leaders* call for uncompromising, coordinated efforts and pressure to end the prevailing gender apartheid.

Image credit: Joel Heard
WILPF International Secretariat
25 January 2023

A new statement, published on 20 January 2023, exposes the disastrous impact of the many Taliban bans against Afghan women and girls and highlights the dangers of banning women from working in NGOs. 

Developed by the Umbrella of Afghan Women Leaders*, this statement outlines the condition of women and girls in Afghanistan and calls for a halt to all humanitarian activities by the UN and other relevant actors until Afghan women can resume work, including women staff of local NGOs.

“Humanitarian aid should resume when Afghan women employees are able to work and when women and girls can have effective access to aid.”

Statement by the Umbrella of Afghan Women Leaders on the Taliban’s ban to women’s work in the humanitarian NGO sector: Women’s Rights must NOT be a bargaining chip between the Taliban and the International Community

Initiated by Afghan women living in Afghanistan or belonging to the diaspora, this statement alerts us once again to the reality of the situation since the takeover of the Taliban back in August 2021: a gender apartheid depriving women and girls of their rights and freedom. 

By now, their demands are as follows: 

  • The establishment and full respect of uncompromising, coordinated efforts and pressure 
  • The ending of the use of women and girls as a bargaining chip between the UN and the Taliban
  • An immediate, full and permanent reversal of the ban

The statement also calls on Amina Mohammed the UN Deputy Secretary General (DSG), as a last resort, to take a stand in unswerving solidarity with Afghan women and girls. 

Read and share widely Statement by the Umbrella of Afghan Women Leaders on the Taliban’s ban to women’s work in the humanitarian NGO sector: Women’s Rights must NOT be a bargaining chip between the Taliban and the International Community

For further details or to be put in relation with Afghan activists able to give you more in-depth insights and reports on the situation in Afghanistan/diaspora, please contact:

Rola Al-Masri, Director of Programmes at WILPF, at rola.almasri (a)

*The Umbrella of Afghan Women Leaders is a platform led by Afghan women both inside Afghanistan and in the diaspora. One of the Umbrella’s objectives is to foster solidarity and coordination amongst Afghan women activists, networks, and coalitions inside and outside of Afghanistan to sustain the women movement under Taliban, and to improve the situation for Afghan women by ensuring their meaningful contribution to the social, economic and political life of the country.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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