According to media reports on Tuesday 28 September, the European Parliament decided to nominate a group of 11 Afghan women for the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

The nominees include former heads of the Human Rights Commission; Shaharzad Akbar, Seema Samar, Palwasha Hassan, Zarifa Ghafari, Anesa Shaheed, Sahra Karimi, Ferishta Karim, Horia Musadiq, Habiba Surabi, Mary Akrami and Matera Mehran.

Among this group of women are activists, politicians, journalists and teachers who have fought tirelessly for women’s rights, including in the fields of education and political participation, as some of them were part of Afghanistan’s political life and associations before the Taliban took control.

S&D calls on all other political groups in the European Parliament to unite around this candidacy. The issue of Afghan women and girls must be placed high on the international agenda, using all possible means at our disposal to protect all their rights and achievements.

S&D chair Iratxe García Pérez said firmly in a statement that they were convinced that this year’s Sakharov Prize should honour Afghan women who have fought courageously for equality and the full enjoyment of human and fundamental rights, including the promotion of education and access to work and the prevention of gender-based violence.

This award is a strong signal of support to all Afghan women, who are especially affected by the Taliban takeover of the country and the humanitarian crisis. The main concern at present is that the Taliban, despite their promises, will reintroduce oppressive rules that we saw under their regime in the 1990s, when girls were banned from schools and women were imprisoned in their own homes.

To avoid this, S&D calls for a strong human rights clause – and in particular respect for women’s rights – to be included in EU financial assistance to the country.

Although the Ministry of Education has not yet decided to resume girls’ schools, they assure that work on the resumption plan is underway and that the outcome will be shared with the masses in due course.

1st October 2021

[Translated from Spanish]

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