PRNewswire March 9, 2023

MARCH 8, 2023

World renowned human rights lawyers, activists and leaders of both Afghan and Iranian descent have teamed together to interpret the legal definition of apartheid to include gender, charting a path to set a historical precedent to end the treatment of women as second-class citizens.

NEW YORK, March 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — This International Women’s Day a diverse coalition of Iranian and Afghan women leaders, international legal practitioners, and activists, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, the first woman deputy speaker of Afghan parliament Fawzia Koofi, the former Afghan deputy minister for parliamentary affairs Atefa Tayeb and more are calling on states to recognize the crime of gender apartheid to hold accountable and eventually end the systems of gender apartheid currently in place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in Afghanistan under the Taliban.


The campaign titled, “End Gender Apartheid Today” looks to address, head on, the reality that women and girls who live under the regimes of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Taliban in Afghanistan live in an extreme, systematic and structural war against them designed to dehumanize and repress for purposes of entrenching power.

“This campaign will seek to expand the set of moral, political and legal tools available to mobilize international action against and ultimately end systems of gender apartheid,” states human rights lawyer┬áGissou Nia. “The definition of apartheid under international law should be interpreted to include gender hierarchies, not just racial hierarchies.”

The open letter states,┬á”the components of systematic segregation and subjugation that make up apartheid are present in Afghanistan and Iran today. Under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan are banned from education, employment in NGOs and in government, and from traveling long distances without a male guardian, all while having to abide by a severe dress code. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, women are banned from many fields of study, sporting events, and from obtaining a passport and traveling outside the country without their husband’s permission. Women’s lives and their testimony are worth half a man under the law and they are forced to wear compulsory hijab. These bans, and the broader legal systems they belong to, seek to establish and maintain women’s subjugation to men, and the State. Violation of these laws can lead to violence, imprisonment, and death.”

The coalition continues by stating, “In order to fully realize the goals of the woman-led revolution in Iran and to support the courageous defiance of Afghan women who have had their rights brutally stripped away, the international community must properly recognize the harms of a legally enshrined system in which women are treated as second-class citizens and acknowledge this not only through condemnation but through effective, concerted action.”

The collective has three chief demands to governments, including interpreting and/or expanding the legal definition of apartheid to include gender apartheid under international and national laws to create pathways for justice. The group has shared a three part path to realizing this historic goal on their campaign website.

“In Afghanistan, women face gender apartheid in various forms, including limited access to education, health care, employment opportunities, as well as restrictions on movement and participation in public life,” says Judge Lida Kharooti Sayeed, founder and vice president of the Afghan Women Judges Association. “It is essential that the international community supports Afghan women and girls in their struggle for equal rights and tries to hold those responsible for gender apartheid accountable.”

“Gender apartheid, as systematic discrimination against women and girls, has existed in the depths of political, legal and social structures in patriarchal societies for a long time,” says Judge Najla Ayoubi, the co-founder of Every Woman Treaty. “Now, this is the time for global policymakers to call for an end to gender apartheid by criminalizing this act and making states accountable. I urge my fellow sisters to never stop demanding your rights to equality and freedom.”

Members of the public are invited to sign the petition and learn more at 




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