Women's Rights

UN condemns ban on Afghan female staff working in their own country

By Salaam Times and AFP

Afghan women stand in line in Kandahar to receive food aid distributed by a charity foundation during Ramadan on March 28. [Sanaullah Seiam/AFP]

Afghan women stand in line in Kandahar to receive food aid distributed by a charity foundation during Ramadan on March 28. [Sanaullah Seiam/AFP]

KABUL -- The United Nations (UN) on Wednesday (April 5) said it is seeking "clarity" on an extended ban that blocks women from working for the world body across the country.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it had received notice on Tuesday that the ban on women working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) would apply to the world body.

Although women have been banned from working in Afghanistan since August 2021, UN staff had so far been exempt.

They had also been exempt from a December order for all foreign and domestic NGOs to stop women from working across Afghanistan.

"UNAMA received word of an order by the de facto authorities that bans female national staff members of the United Nations from working," Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, told reporters.

The UN had heard "from various conduits that this applies to the whole country", he added.

No written order had yet been received, Dujarric said, but the UN planned to hold meetings with authorities in Kabul to "seek some clarity."

For Guterres, Dujarric said, "any such ban would be unacceptable and frankly, inconceivable".

"This is the latest in a disturbing trend undermining the ability of aid organisations to reach those most in need," he said.

"Female staff members are essential for the United Nations to deliver lifesaving assistance," he said, noting that the UN is working to reach 23 million people in need of humanitarian aid in the country.

Need for women to deliver aid

A foreign aid worker said the ban on UN women will have a huge impact.

"Women employees identify women beneficiaries, that's how it works across agencies, and that work will be further affected with the extension of this ban to UN women staff," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The UN employs about 400 Afghan women -- the bulk of the some 600 female staff members working in Afghanistan -- according to UN figures. There are about 3,300 Afghans in total in the 3,900-strong UN workforce in the country.

"It's very difficult to imagine how we deliver humanitarian aid without our female staff," Dujarric said. "Obviously, given the society and the culture, you need women to deliver aid to women."

After the ban was announced last year, several NGOs suspended their entire operations in protest, piling further misery on Afghanistan's 38 million citizens, half of whom are facing hunger and rely on aid organisations.

Days of discussions had led to an agreement that women working in the health aid sector would be exempt from the decree, and UN staff, including those in the aid sector, were never beholden to the ban.

In January, at least three leading international aid agencies partially resumed life-saving work in Afghanistan, after assurances from local authorities that Afghan women could continue to work in the health sector.

CARE, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) had suspended their operations in late December in protest at a government order banning Afghan women from aid work.

Last month, UNAMA chief Roza Otunbayeva told the UN Security Council she feared the Afghan authorities could extend the ban imposed on women working for NGOs to the UN's female staff.

Women pushed out of society

The restrictions on women's daily life "may amount to the crime of gender persecution", UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett said in a recent speech in Geneva, Switzerland.

Authorities have barred teenage girls from secondary school, and women may not study at Afghan universities.

Women have been pushed out of many government jobs, prevented from travelling without a male relative and ordered to cover up outside the home, ideally with a burqa.

Women are also not allowed to enter public parks or gardens.

Several officials have said the ban on women's education is temporary, but despite promises, they have failed to reopen secondary schools for girls, which have been closed for well over a year.

There have been a litany of excuses for the closure, from a lack of funds to the time needed to remodel the syllabus.

The reality, according to some officials, is that ultra-conservative clerics are deeply sceptical of modern education for women.

Amid the restrictions on girls' schooling in Afghanistan, some are pursuing their education online.

A number of the online classes, which have recently increased in number, are held within Afghanistan, while the rest are managed from other countries, particularly the United States.

Do you like this article?

7 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

Due to the fact that women play a major role in the development of the country, unfortunately, I must say that the leadership of the ruling system has no respect for this woman. The threats and protests of the international community against the rulers of the current system are still little. The world should not ignore the voice of the people of Afghanistan in this area. As it can be seen, due to the prohibition of women's work in the offices of aid organizations, several institutions stopped their work in these difficult days for the people of Afghanistan, which is a shocking news.


The good news is that the United Nations has shown its opposition to the current government of Afghanistan. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that the Taliban's decision to ban women from working in this organization is illegal according to international law and will not implement it. UNAMA warned in a statement on Tuesday that any negative consequences of this crisis will be borne by the Taliban. In its new statement, the United Nations has condemned the Taliban's decision to ban women from working in this organization in a clear and unprecedented tone. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan has said that the Taliban, by deciding to ban women from working, intends to force the organization to choose between continuing to operate in Afghanistan and adhering to its commitments. It is stated in the statement that Roza Otunbayeva, the special representative of the UN Secretary General in Afghanistan, has started a review in this field and the organization's position will be clarified by 5 of the next month. The organization said it is trying to continue its vital humanitarian activities through the previously appointed inter-agency committee. UNAMA emphasized that, they evaluate all aspects and consequences of banning women's work in the United Nations and suspends its activities in case where it faces the Taliban's obstruction. Last week, the Taliban banned the presence of female employees in the UN office. This decision of the Taliban has provoked strong


8- If they think that people will gradually withdraw from this right of girls, they are not familiar with human understanding and rationality. 9- If they introduce themselves to society as ideals or present evidence not to educate their daughters and sisters, no one will accept them because the daughters of Taliban leaders in foreign universities are not hidden from anyone. The examples of the past period are visible to the people. 10- If they think that in the long run, women's participation in governance will be removed and the society will be managed only by half of them, they are overthinking the isolation of Afghanistan and their survival. People have been testing what they are doing for the past few months and recovering from the psychological shock of the sudden change if the night is dark, apples countable. The result of all these miscalculations is looking down on religion, values, Afghans, and Afghanistan and humiliating Afghans. This is to hurt the most oppressed people and increases their hatred towards themselves, which harms everyone at both the national and international levels. Before that, it is necessary to follow every reasonable and peaceful way to eliminate them in the country and internationally.


Closing schools to girls is a dangerous decision based on miscalculations. 1- If this is done in the name of religion, it violates God, His Messenger, and religious values. It may be the order of the religion that the Pakistani Army has created and is implementing in one form in Afghanistan but in another state in Pakistan. This ultimately raises sensitivities and misperceptions against Islam. 2- If this is done in the name of culture, it is not the original culture of Afghans, but the misunderstanding of culture that Imran Khan spreads and introduces Afghans as the people of the age of ignorance. 3- If this is done to put pressure on the international community, it makes the Emiratis' intelligence, patriotism, and prudence low. It makes them worthless in general, which achieves the opposite result. 4- If it is for recognition, then it is a low-level way of state building and a state's interaction with the International Community, which has the opposite result. The international community will recognize it as a dark-minded terrorist group. 5- If they are afraid of the distance from their low-ranking fighters, who for two decades motivated them to fight by destroying schools, social media may have shaped their mentality and prepared them to open girls' schools. Still, if they did not know before that they were making sacrifices for power, and now they know that their leaders are ruining the future of the innocent girls they see for the sake of power, they might stand again


So, what is the difference between the United Nations and us? We, the ordinary people, condemn it, as does the United Nations. Everyone is looking for their benefit. Otherwise, the drones are still flying. Those committing such crimes should be identified and shot on the spot. America killed its enemy Zawahiri in a few minutes, but the enemy of Afghans is not the enemy of anyone else. Such people who prevent education are the enemies of Afghans and foreign spies. Common Afghans are so tired of wars that they can neither fight nor launch an uprising. May Allah have mercy on our people.


The Taliban themselves are also sure that the functioning of organizations in Afghan society without women is impossible. I have heard this from them many times, but I don't know why they touched the bees' nest (UNAMA) after a long time or why they didn't fire the UNAMA female workers from the beginning, along with other organizations. The fact that whoever ordered or suggested this to the Taliban is harming the Taliban, and this advice is forcefully bringing the Taliban closer to the cliff, which will eventually lead them to be thrown down the cliff. Life without women is difficult and impossible. If life was possible without women, why did women participate in the wars during the time of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH)? But Islam has given women the right to work, which should not be taken away from them. Yes, as on one side, we are Afghans, and on the other side, we are Muslims; it is good that hijab is respected, and fortunately, there is bareness in the conscience of Afghans. Still, I don't know what the Taliban are thinking and how long they will make decisions to the detriment of the people...


Women can freely roam in the market. No difference has occurred in wearing their clothes. They travel freely from one province to another. They can freely go to wedding halls and similar places. The question here is, why women are banned from their duties? Why are girls banned from getting education in the universities and schools? Women are standing in the queu to get aid. Is it better to speak with a woman or a man? Which work is permissible in Islamic Sharia? The Taliban should never ban female employees from their duties in any ministry or any directorate where women are involved, or any government or foreign organization that provides assistance to women.