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Australian medical students condemn the Taliban’s violation of women’s rights in Afghanistan

2nd February 2022

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) today condemned the Taliban for its
oppressive ban on women attending universities and schools.

AMSA President, Tish Sivagnanan, said, “Education is a fundamental human right, and preventing 
women from accessing it has serious and multifaceted impacts on Afghan society, including on the 
healthcare system.”

In response to this violation of human rights, the President of the Afghanistan Medical Students’ 
Association has stated that this ban is “causing [women] significant mental agony,” and that life 
in their country is “getting worse every day.”

“AMSA expresses its strongest support for the Afghanistan medical students who are unable to 
continue their studies and have been unjustly and wrongfully deprived of their right to continue 
their medical education,” Ms Sivagnanan said.

“Female clinicians are vital for a functional medical workforce that is representative of and 
responsive to the needs of the whole population.”

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan implemented its decree on December 21st 2022, just one year after 
women were also banned from secondary education.

“Access to education is a basic human right and no restrictions should be imposed based upon one’s 
gender identity,” Lauren Martin, AMSA National Officer for Sexual and Reproductive Health said.

“The education and empowerment of women are essential in improving the future health and equality 
within communities”, said Ms Martin.

AMSA National Officer for Medical Education Sarah Andrea Ng said, “Education empowers women and is 
a cornerstone to strengthening economies and reducing inequality.”

“Proper and holistic education raises communities out of poverty, and fosters societies where 
fairness and equal opportunities are prioritised,” Ms Ng said.

AMSA calls upon the Australian federal government to:
●  follow the suit of the United States in appointing a Special Envoy for matters related to Afghan 
women, girls, and human rights.
●  consistently, frequently and actively condemn the actions of the Taliban on international 
platforms, including prioritising the rights of Afghan women and girls across Australia’s foreign 
●  reshape Australia’s humanitarian assistance program, including prioritising financial assistance 
to programs that support women and girls, and ensuring
women and girls as key priority areas under its Humanitarian Program.

AMSA also calls upon local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to:
●  actively condemn the Taliban’s overarching ban on female staff working in NGOs and suspend 
operations in the event that this ban remains in place.
●  provide opportunities for education and employment for Afghanistan women and girls whenever 
●  devise contingency plans to ensure that humanitarian aid continues to be provided to women and 
girls in the absence of female NGO aid workers.

AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 18,000 medical students. AMSA International is 
a branch that is partnered with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations 
(IFMSA). AMSA International collaborates with medical students worldwide to progress human rights, 
including gender equity and social inclusion for all
women and girls.

Media contacts
Tish Sivagnanan, AMSA President
[email protected]
0433 446 220

Mihan De Silva, Public Relations Officer
[email protected]
0406 944 567

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