A group of Afghan women protested in Kabul on Saturday, defying a crackdown on dissent to urge foreign nations not to formally recognise the Taliban government ahead of a United Nations summit next week.
Protesters opposing creeping curbs on women’s rights have been beaten or detained since the Taliban surged back to power in 2021, and security forces have fired into the air to disperse some rallies.
However, small groups of women have continued to stage sporadic gatherings.
Around 25 women marched through a residential area of the city on Saturday ahead of the summit in Doha that the UN says will discuss a “durable way forward” for the country.
“Recognition of Taliban — violation of women’s rights,” the women chanted during the march, which lasted no longer than 10 minutes and passed without confrontation with security forces.
Other chants included “Afghan people, hostages of Taliban” and “We will fight, we will die, we will take our rights.”
No nation has yet acknowledged the government as legitimate since the Taliban returned to power after the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in 2021.
A previous Taliban government that ruled from 1996 to 2001 was only granted formal recognition by three nations — Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Diplomats, NGOs and aid agencies are deeply divided over the issue.
Some believe the international community might cajole Taliban authorities into reversing curbs on women’s rights by dangling the prospect of recognition.
Others say even discussing it grants the Taliban government some legitimacy at a time when they are squeezing women out of public life.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said last week the Doha meeting starting on Monday could see envoys discuss “baby steps” on a path to recognition, albeit with conditions.
Earlier this month Mohammed had tweeted “Giving up on women’s rights is simply not an option.”