The United Nations has stated that it cannot accept the Taliban’s decision to ban Afghan female employees from working in the agency.
The United Nations has said it cannot accept the Taliban’s decision to ban female Afghan staff from working at the agency, calling it an “unprecedented” violation of women’s rights.
Wednesday’s announcement came a day after the United Nations said Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban had been told it would no longer allow Afghan women to work for the world body. The announcement came after the UN mission in the country expressed concern that its female staff were not allowed to report for work in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded to “immediately cancel the ban”.
“This is a violation of women’s inalienable human rights,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on behalf of Guterres on Wednesday.
The Taliban have not publicly commented on the ban or issued a statement.
The UN said in a statement that several female UN staff have already experienced restrictions on their movement, including harassment, intimidation and detention.
“Therefore, the UN has instructed national staff, men and women, not to report to the office until further notice,” the statement said.
Despite initial promises of more moderate rule than during its previous rule, the Taliban have cracked down on the country since taking over the country in 2021, when US and NATO forces pulled out of Afghanistan after two decades of war.
Girls are not allowed to get an education beyond the sixth grade. Women are prohibited from working, studying, traveling without a male companion, and visiting parks. Women should also cover themselves from head to toe.
Afghan women were already barred from working in national and international non-governmental organizations, undermining the delivery of humanitarian aid. However, the ban previously did not include working for the United Nations.
That changed this week. The UN mission said on Wednesday that under a Taliban order, no Afghan women are allowed to work for the UN in Afghanistan and that “this measure will be vigorously enforced”.
The ban is illegal under international law and cannot be accepted by the United Nations, the statement said.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, is engaging the Taliban authorities to convey the UN’s complaint and demand the immediate revocation of the order. The UN said it is also engaging member states, the donor community and humanitarian partners.
“No other regime in the history of the United Nations has ever tried to ban women from working in the Organization just because they are women,” Otunbaeva said. “This decision is an attack against women, fundamental principles of the United Nations and international law.”
The United Nations has about 3,900 staff in Afghanistan, including approximately 3,300 Afghans and 600 international staff, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. A total of 600 Afghan women and 200 women from other countries are also included.
Otunbayeva is the former president and minister of foreign affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic. He is appointed by the Secretary-General in consultation with the UN Security Council. A UN spokesman said on Tuesday that there had been no Taliban activity involving senior UN leadership.
The Taliban’s restrictions in Afghanistan, especially bans on education and the work of non-governmental organizations, have drawn fierce international condemnation. But the Taliban have shown no signs of backing down, insisting the bans are temporary suspensions, allegedly because women did not wear their headscarves or hijabs properly and because gender segregation rules were not followed.