The latest: In response to the Taliban’s ban on women’s employees from working for the United Nations, the Coalition for Women’s Protest Movements has called on the global organization to close its representative office in Kabul as it has failed to protect the human rights of its employees and its activities are no longer effective to the Afghan people.
- The coalition held press conferences in Kabul, Bamiyan, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces on Monday in response to the Taliban’s ban on women working at UN offices in Afghanistan.
- “Please close the office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan or UNAMA, because you cannot even protect the human rights of your employees,” their statement said.
- “UNAMA has remained silent in the face of serial killings, arbitrary arrests, and forced migration,” the coalition’s statement added.
- They have called on the United Nations and other international aid agencies to cease their operations in Afghanistan until women are allowed to work.
- Crimes and human rights abuses by the Taliban in Afghanistan have challenged the UN mission, the coalition said. The women protesters added that the goal of the UN is to maintain peace, spread peace, and prevent war in the world, but now there is no peace in Afghanistan and there is a war with different groups and factions.
- In December 2022, when the Taliban banned women from working in non-governmental institutions, there had been a demand by women protesters from international aid agencies to respond decisively against this restriction and not to continue their activities in Afghanistan without female employees.
- “Contrary to our expectations, international aid agencies, including the United Nations, once again were lax against the Taliban and agreed with them to allow women to continue their work in limited sectors,” the coalition added.
- The women protesters have accused the United Nations and the international community of engaging with the Taliban, causing the group to act boldly in suppressing the Afghan people more.
- “Only the Taliban are responsible for starving 28 million Afghanis who rely on humanitarian aid,” the coalition said.
- “By banning women’s employment, the Taliban take the right to a decent life from the Afghan people and spread poverty and hunger in this country,” the coalition added.
Meanwhile, in a related development, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a statement on Tuesday said that it has initiated an operational review period in Afghanistan till May 5 following Taliban’s ban on women working at UN offices.
- It states that the review will be done under the supervision of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA Roza Otunbayeva.
During the review period, the UN in Afghanistan will conduct the necessary consultations, make required operational adjustments, and accelerate contingency planning for all possible outcomes.
- UNAMA added that it will, however, try to maintain principled and constructive engagement with all possible levels of the Taliban even during this review period.
- Employees working at UN offices, both men and women, have been instructed not to report to work, except for some emergency tasks.
- The UN mission in Afghanistan emphasised that even though it is reviewing its actions, it will continue to go on with the time-critical humanitarian activities and assess the scope, parameters and consequences of the ban, and pause activities where impeded.
- The United Nations in Afghanistan stressed that the ban by the Taliban on Afghan women from working is discriminatory and severely restricts women and girls’ participation in most areas of public and daily life in Afghanistan.
- It added that the ban is unlawful under international law and any negative consequences of this crisis for the Afghan people will be the responsibility of the Taliban.
Zoom out: The Taliban on April 4 prevented women working for the United Nations in Jalalabad from attending their places of work. Then, they issued a countrywide ban on Afghan women working with the United Nations.
- In response to the Taliban’s move, the UN Office in Afghanistan first asked its employees not to come to their offices for the next 48 hours and then extended the decision until May 15.
- This follows the ban on women working with NGOs, issued on 24 December 2022, and the extensive list of earlier restrictions on women and girls issued since the Taliban took power.
- After the ban announcing an order for all foreign and domestic NGOs to stop women personnel working across the crisis-stricken nation last year, several NGOs suspended their entire operations in protest, piling further misery on Afghanistan’s 38 million citizens, half of whom are facing hunger.