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Men to Serve as Proxies for Women at Afghan Event


Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi | Image by TASS

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Taliban leaders will assemble a group of religious scholars and tribal elders in Afghanistan to talk about national harmony and other matters that notably does not include women, the acting deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.

Speaking to state media RTA on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said the conference, the first of its type since the Taliban took power last August, will have male delegates as proxies for women.

Approximately 3,000 men will participate in the event, which began on Thursday. Still, it is not clear what precisely will be examined or whether it will include women’s rights, which have reportedly been diminished since the Taliban took over, despite assurances of reform.

“Different people with different views are going to gather… this will be a positive step for stability in Afghanistan and strengthening national unity,” Hanafi said.

He added religious leaders requested the gathering examine the country’s Islamic system of government as well as economic and social issues.

Since the Taliban returned to power, the country has confronted alarming financial troubles, massive humanitarian crises, and government infighting.

An estimated 24 million people, or 60% of the nation’s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance such as food and medical supplies, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned in March.

When asked if women would attend, Hanafi said male delegates would represent women.

“The women are our mothers, sisters. We respect them a lot. When their sons are in the gathering, it means they are also involved, in a way, in the gathering,” he said.

Governments worldwide, including Washington D.C., have insisted the Taliban change course on women’s rights after the government threw out plans in March to open girls’ high schools as well as mandated females cover their faces and have a male chaperone while traveling.

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