UAE: Today the Council convenes to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The UAE, Norway, Albania, and Brazil have come together under our shared commitments for the principles of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) to highlight once again the critical situation that Afghan women and girls find themselves in, and to urge their full, equal and meaningful participation in Afghanistan. As Council members, we stand with the women of Afghanistan and commit to prioritizing their needs during our ongoing discussions on the UN’s role in Afghanistan.

Let me turn to my Albanian colleague now.

ALBANIA: We reiterate the importance to ensure that the Taliban keep their promise to open schools by this March. Recovery in Afghanistan cannot happen without women back at work and girls back in school. Their rights to education, work and freedom of movement must be respected and protected. We will closely monitor the progress through various reporting sources from UN agencies and civil society organizations and speak up if their basic human rights and freedoms will continue to be under attack, restricted and threatened.

I now turn to my colleague from Brazil.

BRAZIL: UNAMA has been doing some incredible advocacy work in Afghanistan to underline that discrimination against women and girls is unacceptable and that they must be at the heart of efforts to build a functioning Afghanistan. The disfranchisement of women that make up half the population will lead to further economic desperation and ultimately instability. The Council needs to keep women’s and girls’ situation as the highest priority on the agenda when it comes to Afghanistan.

Let me turn to my Norwegian colleague now.

NORWAY: Despite the promises of the Taliban to respect women’s rights, we cannot claim to have seen any progress in empowering women. Rather, the institutions that were in charge to protect their rights are no longer functional, and there are increasing restrictions on women’s rights. It is imperative to protect rights like freedom of expression and movement for all Afghans. We condemn the harassment of, and attacks on women human rights defenders. We support the call for investigation of such matters so that perpetrators can be held accountable.

I turn to my UAE colleague to close.

UAE: Today, the Security Council finds itself at a critical juncture, as we are discussing the future of the UN’s presence in Afghanistan. We are strongly committed to women and girls maintaining full access to education, the workplace, and public life. We will vigorously pursue this objective, including by stressing that their empowerment and protection are not just a moral and ethical duty but a necessity for building a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

UAE (in national capacity): We have said this many times before, but it is always worth repeating: religion cannot be used to justify extremist ideology or to excuse discrimination against women and girls. The UAE stands by the women and girls of Afghanistan as they demand their rights to work, to education, and to participate in public life, which is fully compatible with the religion of Islam and our culture.