Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala Yousafzai and an international advocate for girls’ education, has declared his support for the campaign by women’s rights activists to condemn anti-women policies and recognize what is referred to as “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan. This campaign has been active for months, aiming to bring global attention to the issue.
Yousafzai announced this on his social media platform X on the ninth day of a hunger strike by women’s rights activists in Cologne, Germany. He said, “We demand the world to recognize Afghanistan as a place where gender apartheid is prevalent.”
He shared a picture of himself and his wife at an airport, holding a placard with hashtags reading “End Gender Apartheid” and “Let Afghan Girls Educate.”
The campaign by women’s rights activists to condemn gender apartheid in Afghanistan and seek international recognition for it has been ongoing for months. However, about ten days ago, some of these activists began a hunger strike in Cologne, Germany.
Tamana Zaryab Paryani, a hunger striker, was hospitalized on the ninth day due to worsening health. On the fourth day, she voiced her frustration, highlighting the world’s failure to support Afghan women’s rights and freedoms despite their struggle and suffering. She and her colleagues oppose engagement with the Taliban administration, a stance at odds with global interests.
Their hunger strike has garnered significant international support. A gender activist from Afghanistan also initiated a hunger strike in Sweden in solidarity with the activists in Germany. Afghan women refugees in Pakistan have also expressed support for the strikers, warning that if the global community does not pay attention to their demands, more people worldwide will join the hunger strikes.
German authorities, including a representative from the German Foreign Ministry and a deputy of the regional parliament, visited the hunger strikers yesterday after two of them were hospitalized. They demanded an end to the hunger strike.
Zarmina Paryani, the sister of Tamana Paryani, who had previously reported on the prolonged hunger strike, mentioned on her social media accounts that a deputy of the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia had invited Tamana to speak in the state parliament.
Ziauddin Yousafzai has also joined the protesters and said, “We are going to the city of Cologne in Germany to stand alongside Tamana Zaryab Paryany and Zarmina Paryany, and other brave activists for the 12-day hunger strike. We demand the world to recognize Afghanistan as a place where gender apartheid is prevalent.”
The term “gender apartheid” was first used by Afghanistan’s acting permanent representative to the United Nations to highlight the severity of the situation in Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban administration.
A special rapporteur on human rights and a working group on discrimination against women and girls later wrote in their joint report on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan that the policies of the Taliban would lead to “sexual violence,” constituting a crime against humanity.