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What will come out of the most likely return to backward practices that negate any opportunity for women and girls to have the future they want?

It is time to stand up and take bold decisions to protect, as much as possible, women and girls who will, most likely, be the target of extreme violence and revenge. Once again, they are the ones left behind, but we stand strong to support their rights.

We, the members of GWL Voices, call attention to the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan where the Taliban have taken control of the territory and the Government has ceased to exist, leading to a transition of unpredictable results.

Once again, the Afghan people are caught in the middle of a dramatic change that will mark their lives for the foreseeable future. Particularly, women and girls are deemed to be the victims of a profound shift that will, without a doubt, derail the changes harrowingly introduced in recent years.

Although the advancement of women’s rights has been slow and recognizing that Afghanistan still has the largest gender gap between women’s and men’s economic participation and opportunity, according to the World Economic Forum, changes have allowed for women and girls to have access to education and basic rights and to hope for better opportunities .

What will happen now to those women and girls? What will happen to those women activists that fought hard for equal rights and opportunities? What will come out of the most likely return to backward practices that negate any opportunity for women and girls to have the future they want?

As discussions on transitional arrangements, mostly among men, take place, we urge all parties involved and those who can influence this process to include women in these discussions and to ensure women’s rights is a prerequisite to any future support that a new government may seek, based on tangible and measurable indicators of compliance.

We also call on the international community to charter direct evacuation flights to Afghan women activists and to facilitate asylum of those who are at most risk given their rights-based work of the recent past. Their voices should not be silenced.

All members of the international community, believers of the multilateral principles and the responsibility to protect, should act accordingly. It is time to stand up and take bold decisions to protect, as much as possible, women and girls who will, most likely, be the target of extreme violence and revenge. Once again, they are the ones left behind, but we stand strong to support their rights.

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