By Daphne Psaledakis
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan as she left school in 2012, pleaded with the world on Friday not to compromise on the protection of Afghan women’s rights following the Taliban takeover.
Yousafzai was 24 years old when she expressed concern that the Taliban might act in the same manner as 20 years ago, despite the sharp rise in employment and educational opportunities for Afghan women.
Yousafzai said that there are no compromises in protecting women’s dignity and rights. She spoke to a panel about girls education in Afghanistan at the United Nations General Assembly.
Now is the right time to make sure that Afghan women’s rights are not compromised. Yousafzai joined the panel via video.
Many world leaders did promise to fight for Afghan women’s and girls’ rights during the U.N. annual gathering, though it was not clear what they would do.
Fears about women’s rights have increased since August when the Taliban gained control again, twenty years after their expulsion from power following the U.S.-led invasion of Sept. 11.
Taliban claim they are now more open to change since 1996-2001, when women were prohibited from going home without their male relatives.
When they announced last week that they will open high schools for boys in their teens, but not girls, the Taliban drew skepticism.
Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, stated that the Taliban’s demand for international recognition was the best global leverage for promoting inclusive government in Afghanistan and the respect of women’s rights.
The U.N. heard from Charles Michel, President of the EU Council and Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain about the dire situation for Afghan girls and women.
Michel called for the preservation of “as great as possible the successes of the last twenty years.” Sanchez added: “No society allows only half of its people to progress and intentionally keeps the remaining half behind. This is not sustainable.”
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