It has been revealed that women remain underrepresented amongst the leadership of the Afghan terrorist group the Taliban.
An internal review carried out by the Taliban, and leaked to the media, shows that at present women hold ‘roughly 0%’ of senior leadership roles within the organisation, and that this is consistent across all roles within all departments.
The leaked review has rekindled debate as to whether there is institutionalised sexism within the Taliban, with some campaigners accusing the group of sexual discrimination. Following the leak the Afghan Feminist Council released a statement saying that the group is ‘deeply concerned’ about what they term a “disturbing situation”, and suggesting that the Taliban might suffer lasting damage to its reputation if they don’t do more to improve gender diversity within their top ranks.
Following the revelations, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada held a press conference to address the allegations. After accusing the assembled journalists of spreading ‘fake news’ and ‘treating me so unfairly’ Hibatullah denied that the Taliban are in any way sexist. Hibatullah argued that there is ‘absolutely no discrimination’ within the Taliban noting that anyone with an ‘enormous bushy beard’ can hold a leadership position ‘regardless of gender’.
The sexism row is just the latest controversy to hit the Taliban, and follows claims that the group is transphobic and ableist. As a result student unions at several British universities are reportedly considering banning Taliban speakers from holding meetings on campus, on the grounds that the groups lack of diversity could cause students ‘significant emotional distress’.