Report from SIGAR: Challenges to Securing Afghan Women’s Gains in a Post-2014 Environment
The situation for women during the Taliban regime contrasted sharply with that observed in earlier periods, particularly the era of the Soviet occupation (1979-89). During the Soviet occupation, Afghan Communist party leaders ran the country and there were few, if any, official limitations on women’s rights, although areas outside Soviet/Afghan government control saw substantial adherence to Islamic customs.
Although the focus of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan later shifted to Al Qaeda’s presence there, the thrust of U.S. criticism of the Taliban regime during 1996-98 was focused on its treatment of women. In part because of the Taliban’s denial of women’s rights, the United States withheld recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, formally recognizing no faction as the government. The United Nations continued to seat representatives of the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani, which was ousted from Kabul by the Taliban in 1996. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1193 (August 28, 1998) and 1214 (December 8, 1998) urged the Taliban to end discrimination against women. In May 1999, the Senate-passed S.Res. 68, calling on the President not to recognize an Afghan government that oppresses women. Later, after the August 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, the Taliban’s hosting of Al Qaeda’s leadership became the Clinton Administration’s overriding priority for Afghanistan. Still, after that time, the Administration continued to criticize the Taliban’s treatment of women.