WANGELS, Germany (AFP) - The Group of Seven industrialised nations on Thursday (May 12) condemned the growing restrictions placed on women and girls by the Taliban in Afghanistan, accusing the hardline militant group of isolating the country.
"We call on the Taliban to urgently take steps to lift restrictions on women and girls," the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States said in a statement.
"We condemn the imposition of increasingly restrictive measures that severely limit half the population's ability to fully, equally and meaningfully participate in society," they said.
By restricting the rights of women and girls, the Taliban are "further isolating themselves from the international community", the ministers said.
When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan last year, they promised a softer rule than during their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, which was marked by human rights abuses.
But they have increasingly restricted the rights of Afghans, particularly girls and women, who have been prevented from returning to secondary schools and many government jobs.
Women across the country have been banned from travelling alone, and last week the authorities ordered them to cover up completely in public, ideally with a burqa.
In New York later on Thursday, envoys to the United Nations also condemned the growing curbs on women in Afghanistan.
"Taliban policies continue to focus on oppressing women and girls rather than addressing the economic crisis," said Norway's deputy ambassador to the UN Trine Heimerback.
"It's utterly deplorable. It's now abundantly clear that the Taliban have no intention of upholding their commitments to the international community," added Ireland's ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason.
Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, said the Taliban's wish to exclude women from public life is "repressive" and "wrong".
The UN Security Council held a meeting behind closed doors which could be followed in the coming days by a unanimous declaration condemning the restrictions on Afghan women.
The G-7 foreign ministers gathered on Thursday for a three-day meeting in Germany, which holds the presidency of the group.
The ministers plan to discuss the war in Ukraine but also other pressing global issues.