KABUL: Afghan women spoke out on Sunday, expressing frustration and helplessness after Afghanistan's Taliban-run administration a day earlier ordered all local and foreign NGOs to stop female employees from working, in the latest blow to women's place in public life in the war-torn nation.
The order, issued by Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammad Hanif on Saturday evening, said any local or foreign organization found not complying would have its operating license revoked in Afghanistan.
The move comes less than a week after the Taliban banned women from attending universities, prompting global condemnation and sparking some protests and heavy criticism inside Afghanistan. Girls in the country were already banned from attending high school.
Afghan women affected by the latest edict denounced the move, saying it would affect livelihoods of many families across the nation and urging action from the international community.
“I’m personally so depressed as I’m the only breadwinner for my family,” Ramzia Sayedi, who works at a foreign NGO in Kabul and was turned away from her office on Sunday, told Arab News.
“We were told to leave the office, and we were told that we can’t work here anymore until the next order, because if anyone violated the order she would be beaten and taken to prison.”
Sakina Hussaini, a rights advocate and employee at a foreign organization in the capital, said the Taliban order was “inhuman.”
“I’m the sole breadwinner of my family and many other women like me make a living for their families,” Hussaini said. “This decision of the Taliban is inhuman and against the religion ... This would have consequences so I urge the international community to address this problem.”
“Instead of creating opportunities for work, the Taliban are removing current opportunities of work and it’s a big crisis, women must be allowed to go to work,” Shabana Niazai, who works at a financial consultancy NGO, told Arab News, calling on the Taliban administration to “give women their rights, not to take their rights.”
Afghanistan's struggling economy has tipped into crisis since the Taliban took over in 2021, with the country facing sanctions, cuts in development aid and a freeze in central bank assets.
A record 28 million Afghans are estimated to need humanitarian aid next year, according to AfghanAid.
The latest restrictions on women's work and education are likely to undermine the Taliban-run administration's efforts to gain international recognition and clear sanctions that are severely hampering the economy.
“If we do not work, more than any other damage, we will be more economically disadvantaged, our economic problems will increase even more,” Arzo Yoya, who works with projects under the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, said.
“It will be a big disaster if a woman stays at home, doesn’t study, doesn’t work, doesn’t go to university ... We want our rights and raise our voices. There is no country that has progressed without the presence of women.”