At least seven international humanitarian aid organizations have suspended their efforts in Afghanistan after the Taliban government on Saturday ordered all foreign and domestic NGOs to suspend their employment of women in the latest decree aimed to further oppress, and essentially erase, the country’s female population.
Any organization found not to be in compliance with the order will have its operating license in the country revoked, according to the letter from Hanif which contained the order.
About 35 percent of the staffs of the NGOs are women.
The country’s hardline Islamist rulers claimed that female NGO staff had broken dress codes by not wearing hijab head coverings in justifying the order.
Qatar expressed “extreme concern” over the order, and called on the Taliban to review its decision.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it stresses the need to respect women’s right to work, “given that the freedom to choose and accept work is a human right.” Qatar is the latest Muslim country to criticize the Taliban’s increasing oppression of women.
The acting head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan met Taliban leaders on Monday in an attempt to persuade them to withdraw the ban, according to multiple international media.
Ramiz Alakbarov met with Taliban Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif in Kabul, telling him millions of people in his country need “humanitarian assistance, and removing barriers is vital.”
Humanitarian aid organizations Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International said in a joint statement, “We cannot effectively reach children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without our female staff.
“Whilst we gain clarity on this announcement, we are suspending our programs, demanding that men and women can equally continue our lifesaving assistance in Afghanistan.”
The International Rescue Committee, another aid organization, said that 3,000 of its 8,000 employees in Afghanistan are women. “If we are not allowed to employ women, we are not able to deliver to those in need.” The organization said that as a result, it will pause its operations in the country.
Women were also banned from attending religious classes at the mosques in Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, just a few days after the Taliban banned female students from attending universities across the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concern over the latest order, saying it would “disrupt vital and lifesaving assistance to millions.
“Women are central to humanitarian operations around the world. This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people,” he warned.
The United States military withdrew from Afghanistan in a chaotic process that was completed on August 30, 2021, marking the end of America’s 20-year war on terror emanating from the region.
On 12 August 2021, following continued Taliban victories across Afghanistan, the Biden administration announced that US troops would be deployed to Kabul Airport to evacuate embassy personnel, US nationals and Special Immigrant Visa applicants. On August 15, the rapid advance of the Taliban reached Kabul, which fell within hours. A total of 7,000 US troops were deployed to secure America’s retreat.
Around 1,000 US and Afghan citizens holding US and other visas were held up by the Taliban following America’s withdrawal and after the US did not authorize their departure. The fate of many is unknown.