Afghanistan’s Women Protester Movements Coalition
5 April 2023
The Taliban’s ban on women’s employment at the United Nations offices was foreseeable. The Taliban have made women’s right to work and education a tool for their political bargaining with the international community. They don’t believe in the participation of women in public life. They seek to systematically remove women from public spaces and have issued more than 40 decrees aimed at oppressing women since their return to power.
In December 2022, when the Taliban banned women’s employment in NGOs, women protesters expected international aid agencies to have a unified approach in protesting the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s employment and not continue their activities in Afghanistan without female employees. Contrary to our expectations, once again international aid agencies, including the United Nations, negotiated an agreement with the Taliban which allowed women to continue their work in limited sectors.
Such settlements and the international community’s unconditional engagement with the Taliban have emboldened them. The lack of unified and strong action in response to the Taliban’s continued attacks on the rights of women has led to the Taliban continuing their attacks with impunity.
Only the Taliban are responsible for starving 28 million Afghans who rely on humanitarian aid. By banning women’s employment, the Taliban take away the right to a decent life from the Afghan people and contribute to more poverty and hunger in Afghanistan. If this situation continues it will lead to a further crisis in the country.
In response to the Taliban’s recent ban on women’s employment in United Nations agencies, we, members of Afghanistan’s Women Protester Movements Coalition, once again call on the United Nations and other international aid agencies to:
- Stop their operations in Afghanistan until women are allowed to work.
- Abandon unconditional engagement with the Taliban and use all means and leverage to hold them accountable for their human rights violations.
The situation in Afghanistan is not only a humanitarian catastrophe but most importantly a human rights crisis. International aid agencies, including the United Nations, must demonstrate their commitment to human rights values in practice and place women’s human rights at the top of their priorities.
If the United Nations and other international aid agencies cannot firmly defend the rights of their female employees, we doubt their intentions to help the people of Afghanistan transition out of the current crisis.