KABUL: Afghan women spoke out against the latest severe blow to their rights under the Taliban administration on Sunday, after authorities ordered all non-governmental organizations to stop female employees from working.
The order was issued by Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif on Saturday evening. Any local or foreign organization found not complying would have their operating license revoked in Afghanistan, according to the edict.
The move comes less than a week since the Taliban banned women from attending universities in Afghanistan, following a series of restrictions authorities have imposed on women since the group took control of the country last year.
The latest restriction drew widespread condemnation from international organizations and foreign governments. This includes the EU — a major funder of aid organizations working in Afghanistan — which said they are assessing the impact it will have on aid from the bloc and described the ban as “a clear breach of humanitarian principles.”
Afghan women affected by the ban have denounced the move they say will affect the livelihoods of many families across the nation, as they urged 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, told Arab News.
Sayedi said she was turned away by her office on Sunday morning.
“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 women’s rights activist and employee of a foreign organization in the capital, said the Taliban order was “inhumane.”
“I’m the sole breadwinner of my family and many other women like me make a living for their families,” Hussaini told Arab News.
“This decision of the Taliban is inhumane and against the religion,” she added. “This will have consequences, so I urge the international community to address this problem.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the ban “will disrupt vital and life-saving assistance to millions,” highlighting that women are central to humanitarian operations globally.
Some women warned that Afghanistan would further deteriorate if the Taliban stopped women from going to work and getting an education.
“Instead of creating opportunities for work, the Taliban are removing current employment opportunities. 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.
She called on the Taliban administration to “give women their rights, not to take away their rights.”
Arzo Yoya, who works with projects under the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said women must be allowed to contribute to society.
“If we do not work, we will be more economically disadvantaged. Our economic problems will increase even more,” Yoya told Arab News. “It will be a big disaster if women stay at home, don’t study, don’t work, don’t go to university.
“We want our rights and to raise our voices. No country has progressed without the presence of women.”