Experts from the UN are arguing that gender apartheid should be made illegal, highlighting the critical need to address systemic discrimination and inequality based on gender.


A group of specialists from the UN is pushing for the formal designation of “gender apartheid” as a crime against humanity, bringing attention to the extreme subjugation that women and girls endure, especially when living under governments like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The five-member expert panel, who are connected to the U.N. human rights council and represent the United States, China, Mexico, Uganda, and Serbia, claims that this recognition has been waiting a long time.

The experts stressed that gender apartheid—which is not now specifically defined in international law—is a painful reality faced by millions of women and girls worldwide in a statement issued by the U.N. on Tuesday.

The experts denounced the de facto Taliban regime for institutionalizing a system of gender-based discrimination, tyranny, and dominance, using Afghanistan as a vivid example. The Taliban have severely restricted women and girls since taking over. These restrictions include preventing them from participating in secondary education, working, engaging in leisure activities, and traveling longer distances alone.

The experts contend that the fundamental elements of apartheid regimes are governmental laws, policies, and practices that uphold severe inequality and oppression against women.

They request that gender apartheid be included under Article 2, which deals with the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, by the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.

Human rights organizations and proponents of women’s rights have expressed similar views during the past year, calling on the international community to intervene forcefully against the Taliban’s oppressive practices. Comparing the idea of ‘gender apartheid’ to the international law on racial apartheid, the former highlights the systemic discrimination against women inside the governmental framework.

Professor Karima Bennoune of the University of Michigan Law School emphasizes that Afghan women human rights advocates emphasize that the Taliban’s treatment of women is fundamental to their ideology and way of life, not just a case of them not respecting women’s rights.

The Taliban government defends its gender-based limitations by citing Islamic and traditional values, even in the face of international criticism and calls for sanctions.