UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutters has criticised the Taliban administration in Afghanistan for its recent ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Gutters described the ban as a violation of women’s fundamental human rights. The UN mission in Afghanistan has advised all Afghan staff not to report to the office for safety reasons. The Taliban, which took over after US-led forces withdrew, claims to respect women’s rights according to its strict interpretation of Islamic law. However, the UN believes the ban is unlawful under international law and cannot be accepted. The Secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, has condemned the move and is engaging with the Taliban at the highest levels to reverse the order. The UN is also speaking with member states, donors, and humanitarian agencies to address the issue.
In December, the Taliban stopped most female humanitarian aid employees from working, making it more challenging to reach women in need and potentially leading to donor funding reductions. The recent ban on Afghan women working for the UN exacerbates this situation, further harming women’s access to critical aid.
The Taliban’s restrictions on women’s rights in Afghanistan have been widely condemned, with the UN and other international organisations calling for respect for human rights and gender equality. The UN has repeatedly stated that women’s participation in decision-making is essential for sustainable peace and development.
The ban on Afghan women working for the UN is a severe setback for gender equality and human rights in Afghanistan. It further limits women’s participation in public life and undermines their ability to access critical services. The international community must continue to put pressure on the Taliban to respect women’s rights and ensure that Afghan women can play an active role in shaping their country’s future.