UN Secretary-General ‘deeply disturbed’ by Taliban’s reported ban on women working for NGOs in Afghanistan
Amid reports on Saturday that the Taliban had barred women from working for local and international NGOs, the United Nations said the decision would undermine the efforts of numerous organizations working throughout Afghanistan to help the most vulnerable, especially women and girls.
A statement issued by Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said that Secretary-General António Guterres was “deeply disturbed by the reported order of the de facto Taliban authorities" and that the UN chief “reiterates the rights of all women to participate in the workforce thus contributing to the greater good.”
According to media reports, the Taliban ordered all foreign and domestic non-governmental groups (NGOs) in Afghanistan to suspend employing women after reportedly receiving “serious complaints” about their dress code.
Reports of this latest restriction come less than a week after the Taliban authorities banned women from attending universities, prompting strong condemnation from the UN and sparking reported protests in some parts of Afghanistan.
The statement issued on Saturday by the UN Spokesman went on to note that the United Nations and its partners, including national and international NGOs, are helping more than 28 million Afghans who depend on humanitarian aid to survive.
“The effective delivery of humanitarian assistance requires full, safe and unhindered access for all aid workers, including women. The reported ban on women working with the international community to save lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan will cause further untold hardship on the people of Afghanistan,” the statement concluded.
UN in Afghanistan to seek clarification
In a separate statement, the UN humanitarian coordination office in Afghanistan, condemned the latest round of restrictions on women’s participation and emphasized that any such order by the de facto authorities “would violate the most fundamental rights of women, as well as be a clear breach of humanitarian principles.”
The UN in Afghanistan went on to say that it would seek to meet with the Taliban leadership to obtain clarity on the reported order.
“Women must be enabled to play a critical role in all aspects of life, including the humanitarian response. Their participation must be both respected and safeguarded. This latest decision will only further hurt those most vulnerable, especially women and girls,” said the statement.
In addition, the UN in Afghanistan and its partners reminded the de facto authorities that “taking away the free will of women to choose their own fate, disempowering and excluding them systematically from all aspects of public and political life takes the country backward, jeopardizing efforts for any meaningful peace or stability in the country.”