Three major international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) announced on Sunday that they are suspending their work in Afghanistan after the Taliban announced that they would ban women from working for these types of organizations.
Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International announced in a joint press release that they are calling for both men and women to continue to participate in their “life-saving aid” in Afghanistan. They said they would suspend their programs there until they “became clear” about the announcement.
“Without our female staff, we cannot effectively reach children, women and men in urgent need in Afghanistan,” they said. “Without support from women, we would not have worked together to reach millions of Afghans in need since August 2021.”
The NGOs said the Taliban’s decision will also impact thousands of jobs as the district is in the midst of an economic crisis.
The Taliban’s decision came when they also announced that women would not be allowed to attend universities in the country or religious education in mosques in the capital Kabul.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the Taliban’s ban on women working for NGOs could be “devastating” and affect “vital and life-saving aid” for millions of people.
The Taliban said they imposed the ban in response to “serious complaints” about women working for NGOs who wore their hijab, the Islamic headscarf, improperly.
The Taliban have introduced numerous rules to restrict women’s rights in the country, following their strict interpretation of Sharia law since they regained control of the district last August. According to the UN, women are largely prohibited from working outside their homes, must cover their faces in public and be accompanied by a male supervisor when traveling.
The country also suffered severe economic difficulties, as international aid was cut off almost immediately after the Taliban recaptured the country.
Afghan women have rallied to protest the recent ban on university attendance in cities across the country. Taliban security forces have responded harshly and used water cannons in a city to disperse a group of demonstrators.
Several majority-Muslim countries from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, have also condemned the ban on women from higher education.
The Taliban’s higher education minister said he thought the ban was necessary to prevent gender mixing at universities and because he believed that some subjects taught violated Islamic principles.