Taliban Restrictions in Afghanistan Destroying Women-led Businesses, Says UNHCR


The latest: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report that due to the increasing Taliban restrictions against women in Afghanistan, women-led businesses in the country are being destroyed.


Go deeper:

  • According to the organization, a number of women’s business centers which has been thriving earlier, are now losing their customers.
  • As per the report, after the Taliban issued successive decrees, restrictions on women’s employment have reduced Afghanistan’s GDP by about 30 to 35 percent in the past two years.
  • “A few months ago, a brilliant new women’s business centre in Herat that supported female businessmen and offered English, computer and vocational training courses for women was full of people. Today, the upper floors, where the courses took place, along with a creche, psycho-social counselling rooms, offices, and a permanent area for selling handicrafts, are silent,” the report quoted Caroline Gluck, author of the UN Refugee Agency report.
  • According to Gluck, female traders at the center have lost their customers and their incomes have fallen by about 50 percent.
  • This comes after the Taliban issued an order banning women from working in domestic and foreign institutions.
  • After that order, a large number of women have been unemployed and housebound.


Why it matters? The Herat centre, spoken about in the report, opened in June 2022 as a pilot project requested by the community and supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with Afghan partner, Women Activities and Social Services Association (WASSA), to provide livelihood opportunities for women in western Afghanistan’s Guzara district, some 12 kilometres south of Herat city.

  • However, the future of the centre, which transformed women’s ability to support themselves and their families, remains uncertain.
  • The International Labour Organisation (ILO) too recently estimated that female employment in Afghanistan has fallen by a quarter since the de facto authorities took over in 2021, noting that home-based self-employment has become the main form of women’s participation in the labour market.


Zoom out: This comes even as in another development related to women’s rights, Taliban has finally released three female protesters on bail in Kabul.

  • Fatema Mohammadi, Malalai Hashemi, and Ruqiya Sa’i had been arrested on Sunday during a peaceful demonstration in western Kabul. The arrest of these women activists had provoked a reaction from human rights organizations.
  • Sources said that the Taliban have warned the girls not to talk to the media after their release.
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