Afghanistan: Taliban forbids women from working for NGOs

25 December, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

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Following an order to stop women's education at colleges until further notice from the Taliban-run government, the prohibition was issued.

According to a letter from the economics ministry, the Taliban-run government in Afghanistan has instructed all national and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to prevent female employees from reporting for duty. This is the latest restriction on women’s rights.

The letter, which was confirmed by Abdulrahman Habib, a spokesman for the economy ministry, on Saturday, stated that some of the female employees were not in compliance with the administration’s interpretation of the Islamic dress code for women and were therefore prohibited from working until further notice.

Any NGO found to be disobeying the injunction will have their operating permit in Afghanistan removed, according to the letter.

The order’s potential impact on United Nations organisations, which are heavily represented in Afghanistan and provide assistance in the midst of the country’s humanitarian crisis, was not immediately obvious.

Habib said that the letter pertained to organisations under Afghanistan’s coordinating body for humanitarian organisations, known as ACBAR, when questioned if the regulations applied to UN agencies. There are more than 180 national and international NGOs in that organisation, however the UN is not one of them.

To carry out its humanitarian activities, the UN frequently hires Afghan-registered NGOs.

The letter was a “clear violation of humanitarian norms,” according to Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s deputy special envoy for Afghanistan and humanitarian coordinator, who expressed his “grave concern” about the claims.

The order’s potential impact on United Nations organisations, which are heavily represented in Afghanistan and provide assistance in the midst of the country’s humanitarian crisis, was not immediately obvious.

Habib said that the letter pertained to organisations under Afghanistan’s coordinating body for humanitarian organisations, known as ACBAR, when questioned if the regulations applied to UN agencies. There are more than 180 national and international NGOs in that organisation, however the UN is not one of them.

To carry out its humanitarian activities, the UN frequently hires Afghan-registered NGOs.

The letter was a “clear violation of humanitarian norms,” according to Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s deputy special envoy for Afghanistan and humanitarian coordinator, who expressed his “grave concern” about the claims.

The majority of the UN’s efforts, he informed the sources, were carried out by contracted NGOs, and their work would be severely harmed.

Since they require female workers to evaluate humanitarian needs and identify recipients in order to administer aid programmes, he said that “many of our programmes would be disrupted.”