Around 100 Afghan women have gathered in front of the abandoned US embassy in Kabul, calling on Washington to open access to $9.5 billion in Afghanistan central bank assets.
Many Afghan women have rallied in Kabul in a Taliban sanctioned protest endorsing their regime and calling on the West to unfreeze the nation's assets as its humanitarian crisis deepens.
On Wednesday, Taliban fighters looked on as around 100 women — many wearing all-covering burqas — gathered in front of the abandoned US embassy in the Afghan capital.
Some wielded placards reading: "We Afghan women support the Islamic Emirate," referring to the name given by the Taliban for its regime.
Banners also called on Washington to open access to $9.5 billion in Afghanistan central bank assets, which it froze when the group seized power following a hasty withdrawal of US-led forces last year.
"The US should immediately release the money of Afghanistan," said Basri Deedar, a principal of a girls' school and an organiser of the rally.
Since the Taliban returned to office, foreign aid representing about 80 percent of the country's budget stopped and more than half of the population faces hunger this winter, according to the United Nations.
Aid and women's rights
Wednesday's demonstration was held the day after a Taliban delegation wrapped up a landmark visit to Norway, seeking aid to tackle the humanitarian crisis.
It was the first visit the Taliban made to a European country since seizing power.
During discussions in Oslo, Western officials clearly linked the resumption of aid to the Taliban's treatment of women.
"The international community should not use women's rights as an excuse to harass Afghans," claimed Deedar.
"Those who act against the Islamic and national values of the country are not representatives of Afghan women."
Meanwhile, Taliban members have forcefully dispersed protests by women demanding equal treatment.
Last week two women activists who had been protesting against the Taliban went missing from their homes. The Taliban has denied detaining them.
Women's rights were trampled during the groups first regime from 1996 to 2001, and while promising a softer brand of rule this time they have introduced tightening restrictions on travel, work and education.