A statement by spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said Secretary-General António Guterres was “deeply concerned by the reported order from the de facto Taliban authorities” and that the UN chief “reaffirms the right of all women to participate in the labor market, thereby contributing to the greater Good.”
According to media reports, the Taliban have ordered all foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan to stop employing women after reportedly receiving “serious complaints” about their dress code.
Reports of the latest restriction come less than a week after Taliban authorities banned women from attending universities, prompting harsh condemnation from the UN and reportedly sparking protests in some parts of Afghanistan.
The UN spokesman’s statement issued on Saturday said 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.
“Effective delivery of humanitarian assistance requires full, safe and unhindered access for all workers, including women. The reported ban on women working with the international community to save lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan will bring further untold hardships to 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, stressing that any such order by the de facto authorities “would violate the most basic rights of women and constitute a clear violation of the humanitarian principles.”
The United Nations in Afghanistan said it was attempting to meet with the Taliban leadership to gain clarity on the reported order.
“Women must be empowered to play a crucial role in all aspects of life, including humanitarian work. Their involvement must be both respected and protected. This latest decision will only do more harm to the most vulnerable, especially women and girls,” the statement said.
Furthermore, the United Nations in Afghanistan and its partners reminded the de facto authorities that “taking away women’s free will to choose their own destiny, disempowering them and systematically excluding them from all aspects of public and political life is the setting the country back and jeopardizing efforts for any meaningful peace or stability in the country.”