Statement: The decree barring women in Afghanistan from working in non-governmental organizations is yet another stark violation of women’s rights

Statement by UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on the Taliban prohibition of women working with national and international non-governmental organizations.




Once again, the de facto authorities of Afghanistan have found new ways to harm the women and girls of Afghanistan. As the world remains outraged by recent decisions to ban women and girls from higher education, the decree issued on the 24th of December barring women from working in national and international NGOs is yet another stark violation of women’s rights and humanitarian principles. We strongly condemn this without reservation.

This is relentless misogyny, a virulent attack on women, their contribution, their freedom and their voice.  It is yet another repudiation of every norm and standard of women’s human rights and respect for human dignity.

In barring women from contributing to the efforts of aid organizations, the Taliban has in effect suspended aid for half the population of Afghanistan, aid that they depended on and without which they will not survive. 11.6 million women and girls are no longer receiving vital assistance. Women-headed households, which make up almost a quarter of households in Afghanistan, have nowhere left to turn and no livelihood support. Many national and international NGOs are unable to operate without their female staff. All services for women are impacted including their access to water, sanitation, hygiene, protection, food, shelter and livelihoods. The consequences of this are further increasing the vulnerability of women and girls already at risk, as services for survivors of violence or to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse are shut down. Thousands of children and families who depended on the income that women delivering humanitarian assistance brought in are now even more destitute.

There can be no greater catastrophe in the face of humanitarian crisis than to remove the contribution of half the population in navigating Afghanistan’s daunting challenges.

UN Women stands in full solidarity with the women and girls of Afghanistan. I stress again our complete condemnation of the continued erasure and oppression of Afghanistan’s women and girls from public life and our outrage at this latest act of cruelty.

The de facto authorities must know that their actions are undertaken under the full light and scrutiny of the international community and always will be. UN Women has stayed and delivered in Afghanistan, and we will remain. Together with our partners, we will make every effort to ensure that women and girls reclaim their space in contributing to the future of Afghanistan and that their rights are restored, protected and upheld.