Taliban authorities have ordered national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to no longer employ women. The economy ministry reportedly received complaints that women were not respecting an appropriate dress code, he told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Saturday (December 24th).
“There have been serious complaints about non-compliance with Islamic hijab and other rules and regulations relating to women’s work in national and international organizations,” said the ministry, which is responsible for approving licenses of NGOs operating in Afghanistan, in a letter obtained by AFP. A ministry spokesperson confirmed that the economy ministry sent the order to the NGOs. “In case of neglect of the directive (…) the license of the organization which has been issued by this ministry will be canceled”, specifies the mail.
For their part, the United States and the European Union have strongly condemned this new attack on women’s rights. “This decision may be devastating for the Afghan people,” tweeted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying he was “very concerned about the Taliban’s ban on women from distributing lifesaving humanitarian aid for millions of people in Afghanistan”.
“The European Union strongly condemns the recent decision by the Taliban to ban women from working in national and international NGOs,” a spokeswoman for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said in a statement sent to AFP. This decision is “another deplorable attempt to erase women from political, social and economic spaces”, lambasted Amnesty International, while the NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC), which has more than 3,000 women on its staff in Afghanistan claimed to be “appalled”. “Our female staff are essential to the delivery of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan,” she added on Twitter.
This announcement by the Taliban authorities comes just four days after the Taliban government decided to ban Afghan women from attending public and private universities in the country for an indefinite period.
The Minister of Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, explained in a television interview that he took this decision because “students who went to university (…) did not respect the instructions on the hijab”. “The hijab is obligatory in Islam,” he insisted, referring to the requirement for women in Afghanistan to cover their face and body completely.