United Nations’ Expert Urge Taliban to Reverse Ban on Afghan Women Working With UN


The latest: UN experts demanded the immediate reversal of the Taliban’s recent order banning Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan.


Go deeper:

  • The experts in a statement said that the latest ban is unlawful discrimination against and a direct attack on women, and wholly against the core values and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international human rights treaties to which Afghanistan is a party and humanitarian principles.
  • The experts reminded the Taliban that such a ban on female staff of non-governmental organisations has had a devastating impact on the population and humanitarian operations.
  • “The latest ban will further hamper the delivery of critical assistance to millions of Afghans in need of urgent support, with many of the worst impacted being women and girls,” the statement warned.
  • “In continuing to target, exclude and isolate women and girls in Afghan society and denying women from working in many professions in Afghanistan, the Taliban is putting at risk the lives of all Afghans and jeopardising the country’s future. The Taliban is once again demonstrating its brazen disregard for women’s rights and their well-being, and the extent to which they will go to remove women from all areas of public life and strip them of their rights and dignity,” the experts said.
  • “The targeting of women and girls in Afghanistan and denying their fundamental rights because they are women increases concern about gender persecution, a crime against humanity, and those responsible must be held accountable,” they said.
  • The experts encouraged the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan women and girls and use every possible avenue to convince the Taliban to reverse this unacceptable treatment of women which will have devastating consequences for all Afghan people.


Meanwhile, even the High Representative on behalf of the European Union released a statement expressing shock regarding the Taliban’s decision to ban women working for UN. The statement remarked that this new discriminatory Taliban decision further aggravates the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan and constitutes a violation of international Human Rights Law (including Treaties to which Afghanistan is a party), international Humanitarian Law and humanitarian principles.

  • It added that this decision places women in an increasingly vulnerable position and have direct and life-threatening repercussions, as banning women from work disrupts the delivery of humanitarian aid, basic needs and services to large parts of the entire Afghan population, including women, children and men.
  • The EU called on the Taliban to reverse these bans immediately and to ensure women and girls’ equal access to education and to all social, economic and public spheres of life.
  • The EU also reaffirmed its commitment to staying engaged and delivering assistance for the benefit of the Afghan population, within a principled approach and urged the Taliban to allow women to equally and meaningfully participate in aid and services delivery, so that women can engage fully and actively in the society, as well as remain beneficiaries of aid.
  • The EU called upon the Taliban to deliver on their promises and prove their ability to respect and protect the human rights and provide basic services for the entire population of Afghanistan, in line with their earlier statements and promises.


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.

  • 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.
  • Aid officials have also flagged the risk that donor countries will reduce funding due to frustration over restrictions on women as other international crises take hold. The UN has made its single-largest country aid appeal ever, asking for $4.6 billion in 2023 to deliver assistance in Afghanistan. So far it is less than 5% funded.
  • The experts include Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; The Working Group on discrimination against women and girls: Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
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