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General backs women’s rights in Afghanistan

General Brian Peddle, the spiritual leader of The Salvation Army, has signed an open letter to the United Nations (UN) and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing significant disquiet about Afghan women’s rights.

The letter, signed by faith leaders and other global leaders, highlights “deep concern” about the latest developments in Afghanistan, where the higher education ban for women was reaffirmed and announced on 20 December 2022. By 24 December, the ban on women working in non-governmental and international non-governmental organisations was also announced.

The letter asks António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, and other officials of the organisation to note this “calamitous regression in human rights”.

Among a range of issues, the letter asks that the following questions be addressed:

  • What are your predictions for the financial impact of the ban on women working in Afghanistan, and how would this ban affect the households currently headed by women who are sole wage earners – including the impact on Afghan boys? How many boys and girls are in households that would then have no wage earner?

  • What are your projections for the impact on the Afghan nation’s overall financial and economic health when women are no longer able to earn an income from their public service?

  • Are you interacting with male community leaders in the country? Are they unanimously backing the Taliban in this decision?

Seeking answers from the OIC on equally demanding questions, the letter asks what is the OIC – with its 56 member states, all of whom are also members of the UN – doing about this situation.

General Peddle said, “The Salvation Army is an international Christian movement, and, as such, our International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) based in New York is represented at the UN. Our role is to advocate for human dignity and social justice for the world’s poor and oppressed. It is in this capacity that I have signed this letter. It is essential that international organisations use their positions to be a voice for the voiceless.”

The letter concludes by thanking the UN and the OIC in advance for their cooperation, which should then “help history to document how your esteemed organisations, representing all of our governments, continue to honour basic obligations towards human welfare in the most troubled times humanity faces.”


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